He Will Not Divide Us
Artist: Shia Labeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkko, Luke Turner
Date of Action: August 2021
Region: North America
Location: Queens, New York
Confronting Bodies: Museum of the Moving Image
Description of Artwork: "He Will Not Divide Us" was an installation at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York. From January 20th, the day of President Trump's election, until the end of his presidency, the public was invited to stand in front of a camera outside of the museum and deliver the words "HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US." The installation was to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and would be live streamed continuously for the duration of Donald Trump's presidency. The mantra, "HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US" could be interpreted as peaceful protest or as a declaration of optimism for Trump's presidency.
The Incident: The instillation drew much attention from many different demographics of different political and social opinions. The museum was proud to have been the home to such a provocative piece of art, but viewed it as problematic when public safety concerns upstaged the original intent of the piece. After many threats of violence, the museum began to worry about its safety and reputation as an artistic and public institution. In the early stages of the installation, a white supremacists said "we must secure the existence of our race, and a future for white children," in front of the camera. Artist, Shia LaBeouf, grew furious and physically attacked the man who had made the statement. After LaBeouf was arrested on site for his aggression and charged with assault, the museum decided it was most prudent to their reputation and the community at large for them to shut down the installation.
Results of Incident: LaBeouf, Turner and Rönkko, all vexed by the museum's decision, tweeted "The museum has abandoned us." Although the installation is no longer at the Queens museum, the artists intend on continuing it until the end of Trump's presidency. On February 10th, the Museum of the Moving Image abandoned the project and relocated it to a wall outside the El Rey Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico. On March 8th, the project was moved to an unknown location and a flag with the words "HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US" will be flown for the duration of the presidency.