In the face of harassment, actor Shia LaBeouf and artists Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner have had to make some major changes to their controversial participatory anti-Trump art project, He Will Not Divide Us. They have, among other things, moved the ongoing livestream performance to an undisclosed location. Unfortunately, this change hasn’t shielded the work from being targeted by tenacious saboteurs.
Originally, the piece was unveiled at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image, timed to President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Visitors were invited to repeat the phrase “He will not divide us” into the camera, and the livestreamed work was intended to last the duration of the Trump presidency.
Protests from white suprematists and numerous threats followed. LaBeouf was even arrested following a physical altercation with a Trump supporter. The museum pulled the plug on the livestream just three weeks into its run, saying it had become “a flashpoint for violence.”
Exiting New York, they then moved the project to a theater in Albuquerque—but the violence followed them to the Southwest. After a temporary shutdown following gunshots fired within a block of the installation, the artists attempted to reimagine the project in a way designed to prevent further disruptions.
“On March 8, 2017, the project moved to an unknown location. A flag emblazoned with the words ‘HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US’ will be flown for the duration,” read a statement on the project website. (Actor Jaden Smith, a budding artist himself who was present for the artwork’s January launch, is promoting the new version of the work in a pinned Tweet.)
And yet, the attempt to move and reconceive the project seems only to have piqued the interest of the haters. Trump supporters have already tracked the work to its new, secret location to make a statement of their own.
A video snippet posted yesterday to YouTube from the livestream shows the artists’ banner replaced with a black flag and a red hat, presumably of the “Make America Great Again” variety.
A pro-Trump Redditor is already claiming credit for the sabotage, bragging about “plotting and successfully destroying Shia LaBeouf’s livestream” in its original incarnation and being able to “pin point a single flagpole in a country of 9.834 km in just over a day” following the move.
Currently, the stream shows the top of the flag pole, but no flag. Whenever the art project is now taking place, skies are blue, and it is extremely windy, with clouds blowing by at a rapid clip.
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