The artist and actor Shia LaBeouf has found a new home for his anti-Trump video installation, HeWillNotDivide.Us. The public artwork, which New York’s Museum of the Moving Image in Queens had removed because it was “a flashpoint for violence,” opened at the El Rey Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on February 18.
In a joint statement, LaBeouf and his artistic collaborators, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner, accused the Queens museum of caving to political pressures when it took down the work. An excerpt reads: “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 normalization of division. In fact, the museum demonstrated a spectacular lack of judgment—and courtesy to us as artists—by neglecting to consult us when they staged a political rally at the site of our artwork on January 29, 2017. 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. Our requests were not even acknowledged, let alone acted upon . . . It is our understanding that the museum bowed to political pressure in ceasing their involvement with our project.”
The Museum of the Moving Image removed the work on February 10, citing “ongoing safety hazards” that the work posed for visitors, staff, local residents, and businesses. In a statement on its website, the institution said that “while the installation began constructively, it deteriorated after one of the artists was arrested on the site of the installation and ultimately necessitated this action.” LaBeouf was the artist who was arrested. He was detained after quarreling with a man outside the museum on January 26. The institution said that threats of violence also contributed to its decision to shut down the piece.