Just over a week after New York's Museum of the Moving Image shut down Shia LaBeouf's performance piece, HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US, it appears the installation has found new life. According to a statement released Saturday by LaBeouf alongside collaborators Rönkkö and Turner, the work is heading to the El Rey Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The trio released a joint statement, via LaBeouf's website:
On February 10, 2017, The Museum of the Moving Image abandoned HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US. Their evident lack of commitment to the project is damning.
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.
In fact, the museum demonstrated a spectacular lack of judgement—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.
Nonetheless, there had been no incidents of physical violence at the site of our project that we are aware of, nor that we had been informed of at any stage by the museum.
It is our understanding that the museum bowed to political pressure in ceasing their involvement with our project. We were only informed of the museum's capitulation in an email from their attorney, Brendan O'Rourke—a lawyer who we note also represents the current president.
It is clear, therefore, that the Museum of the Moving Image is not fit to speak of our intent as artists.
As of February 18, 2017, we are proud to be continuing HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US at the El Rey Theater, Albuquerque.
The NYC-based edition of HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US was subject to rapid change and constant threats from outside influences. The museum and NYPD pledged to protect the livestream demonstration in the wake of a pushback at the site from Donald Trump supporters and neo-Nazis, but a confrontation between LaBeouf and detractors led to the actor's arrest in late January.
With growing concern over the protest becoming a breeding ground for violence, the Museum of the Moving Image chose to withdraw support for the protest. Explaining their decision, the museum said HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US was becoming, "a serious and ongoing public safety hazard," despite claims to the contrary from the creators and their supporters.
LaBeouf spelled out his initial frustration at the decision with a simple image on his Twitter account:
The participatory performance artwork, in which people are invited to show up and chant, "He will not divide us!" for as long as they wish, is unlikely to change at the new locale. Removed from the chaos of New York City, the live stream might have a better chance of lasting in its new home in New Mexico.