Shia LaBeouf has taken his anti-Donald Trump art exhibit to New Mexico after its original venue, New York City’s Museum of the Moving Image, shut down the project earlier this month.
In a statement on the exhibit’s website, LaBeouf and collaborators Nastja Sade Ronkko and Luke Turner said they would move their “He Will Not Divide Us” project to Albuquerque and accused the Queens museum of demonstrating a “lack of commitment” to the project.
“From the outset, the museum failed to address our concerns about the misleading framing of our piece as a political rally, rather than as a participatory performance artwork resisting the normalisation of division,” the group wrote.
“On numerous occasions, we voiced serious concerns to the museum about hate speech occurring at the site of our project, and requested that the museum act responsibly in moderating this and providing the public a means of reporting such incidents,” they added. “Our requests were not even acknowledged, let alone acted upon.”
The 30-year-old Transformers star and his performance artist collaborators launched the “He Will Not Divide Us” project in New York City on Inauguration Day. The exhibit consists of a white wall with a continuously live-streaming camera mounted to it; visitors are encouraged to stand in front of the camera and recite “He will not divide us” as people watch the stream live on the exhibit’s website.
The exhibit was initially a hit, with visitors showing up to chant, sing and dance at almost all hours of the day. LaBeouf joined in regularly.
But on January 26, the actor was arrested at the exhibit for allegedly getting into a physical altercation with a Trump supporter. The arrest was caught on the project’s live-streaming camera.
Shortly afterward, the museum permanently shuttered the project. In a statement, the museum said the exhibit had become “a serious and ongoing public safety hazard for its visitors, staff, local residents and businesses.”
In their own statement, LaBeouf, Ronkko and Turner wrote that the museum failed to consult them when it staged a political rally at the exhibit in January, and accused the museum of “bowing to political pressure” in closing it.
“It is clear, therefore, that the Museum of the Moving Image is not fit to speak of our intent as artists,” the group wrote.
As of Saturday, the exhibit had moved to the El Rey Theatre in downtown Albuquerque. LaBeouf was reportedly on hand for the opening of the new location.
“We are anti the normalization of division. That’s it,” the actor told the Albuquerque Journal on Saturday. “The rest of the info is right there, chief, I got nothing else to say to you.”
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