Shia LaBeouf, child actor turned performance artist, debuted his latest piece of performance art, "He Will Not Divide Us", on January 20th at 9 am, a.k.a Trump's Inauguration Day.
LaBeouf's piece, in collaboration with artists Rönkkö (Finland) & Turner (UK), is the live feed of a camera mounted on the side of the Museum of Moving Image in Queens, NY. The camera is accessible and open to the public 24/7, and the participatory performance will be live-streamed continuously for four years, or the duration of Trump's presidency.
The project invites people to come chant the mantra "he will not divide us" into the camera as “a show of resistance or insistence, opposition or optimism, guided by the spirit of each individual participant and the community.”
The current political climate in the United States has resulted in a mixed response towards the project. Although predominantly positive, on Monday January 23rd a Trump supporter stood in front of the camera and chanted "14", a popular chant amongst white supremacists and the alt-right, which stands for 14 words; "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children." Amongst white supremacists, the cry "14" is usually met with the response "88" (the 8s representing the eighth letter of the alphabet) — short for HH, or "Heil Hitler."
LaBeouf was present at the time of the supremacist's appearance and shouted the words "he will not divide us" repeatedly into his face until the man left the area. LaBeouf has been participating actively at the site every day since it opened four days ago.
LaBeouf, Rönkkö and Turner have put on several performance pieces— many of which have gone viral worldwide— since early 2014, which Dazed accurately described as "a multi-platform meditation on celebrity and vulnerability."
I've been listening to the live feed for almost an hour and in that time groups of people have come and gone in the pouring rain, chanting he will not divide us over and over again, a street musician keeping the beat as she drums on a bucket. As you watch, you understand LaBeouf's piece. Real-life unity and activism his paint, live-streaming his paintbrush and the internet his canvas, LaBeouf brings performance art into 2017, painting a melancholic, beautiful, messy, rainy, dirty, sad yet hopeful portrait of America for the world to see.
To view the live feed, click below.
Update 01/26/2016 1:30 pm— Shia LaBeouf was arrested at the site of "He Will Not Divide" us on Thursday morning a little after 12:30 am, for getting into a verbal altercation with a police officer.
LaBeouf was back outside the Museum of Moving Image at around 10:20 a.m., after he was released from the 114th Precinct, planted himself in front of the camera and continued chanting the same line for thirty uninterrupted minutes before leaving. Watch the video of his arrest below.