By Gabe Fernandez
The Museum of the Moving Image, based in Queens, New York, shut down Shia LaBeouf’s “HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US” installation, an ongoing streaming performance and protest, on Friday stating that it “created a serious and ongoing public safety hazard.”
The participatory performance project made news multiple times last month with incidents involving the actor-turned-performance-artist, including when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a passerby. A 13-second video from a fan Twitter feed for the site showed LaBeouf shoving a man who turned to the camera and said, “Hitler did nothing wrong.”
Later that month, another white supremacist protester arrived to the exhibit and began to repeat the white nationalist rallying cry, “14,” also known as “fourteen words,” or “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” according to Raw Story. LaBeouf followed the man around, shouting, “he will not divide us” until the man fled.
This is not the first time that an art exhibit involving the Transformers star made headlines. In 2014, LaBeouf admitted in an interview that one woman had “stripped [his] clothing and proceeded to rape [him]” during the February performance of his six-day piece titled “#IAMSORRY.”
The museum decided that the incidents involving LaBeouf’s arrest, in conjunction with other non-LaBeouf-related ones, including one where a party of self-proclaimed Nazis began to chug milk and flex in front of the camera while shirtless, was not worth the trouble of hiring police officers to patrol the site on a daily basis.
Officials initially commended the installation by saying “HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US” generated an important conversation allowing interaction among people from many backgrounds and with different viewpoints,” but ultimately decided that the safety of their visitors, and not dealing with 4chan white nationalists trolls, was more important.
The piece was created by LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner as a way to protest the Trump administration. Starting on the day of the 45th president’s inauguration, members of the public were invited to say, and repeat, “he will not divide us” into a camera that would be live streaming nonstop. The project was intended to go on for four years, according to the artwork’s site.
The live stream camera footage has been taken down and replaced with another live video only showing text that reads: “THE MUSEUM HAS ABANDONED US.” That being said, there is still hope that this piece may not be quite dead yet. The site dedicated to “HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US” reads, “On February 10, 2017, the Museum of the Moving Image abandoned the project. The artists, however, have not.”
Regardless of what LaBeouf’s next artistic will be, this situation has shown one ever-present truth: white supremacists ruin everything.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Shia LaBeouf on Facebook.
Gabe Fernandez is a senior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.