“HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US”
These are the words painted outside the west wall of the El Rey Theater.
I saw a few people stenciling something onto the building on my way to work. When I got home from work, I read the words and knew instantly who the “He” was referring to. I liked the sentiment and figured it was some passionate street artists out to make a statement.
Then I noticed a plaque next to it which rarely accompanies graffiti. It read:
LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner
You are invited to deliver the words “He will not divide us” into the camera, repeating the mantra as many times, and for as long as you wish.
The live broadcast will be streamed continuously at www.hewillnotdivide.us for four years, or the duration of the current presidency.
I was intrigued, so I went home and went straight to the website, but instead of finding a livestream video I found the following:
I did a little more snooping around and found that the “LaBeouf” on the plaque was none other than controversial actor turned artist/activist Shia LaBeouf. Apparently his plan was to have an ongoing art installation/livestream video outside of the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York, but according to the museum’s official statement, the installation appeared to be more than they had bargained for.
Statement from Museum of the Moving Image on closure of HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US
The installation resulted in an unexpectedly volatile situation and serious public safety hazards
(NEW YORK, February 10, 2017)—The Museum of the Moving Image has closed HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US, a participatory Internet streaming performance by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner. The installation created a serious and ongoing public safety hazard for the Museum, its visitors, staff, local residents, and businesses.
The installation had become a flashpoint for violence and was disrupted from its original intent.
While the installation began constructively, it deteriorated markedly after one of the artists was arrested on the site of the installation and ultimately necessitated this action. Over the course of the installation, there have been dozens of threats of violence and numerous arrests, such that police felt compelled to be stationed outside the installation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
We take our commitment to the safety of our 200,000 annual visitors and 50,000 school children attending programs at the Museum seriously, along with the safety and security of our staff and community.
We are proud to have launched this engaging and thought-provoking digital art installation which was experienced by millions of online viewers worldwide. Until public safety concerns overrode the intent of the installation, HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US generated an important conversation allowing interaction among people from many backgrounds and with different viewpoints. However, ending our engagement with the installation is the most prudent path forward to restore public safety to the Museum, its visitors, staff, and the community.
I suddenly realized how big of a deal this stenciled street art was and without hesitation I rushed outside to snap a photo of the text before someone else beat me to it. As I turned the corner, I noticed a lone man fidgeting with something under the text. As I got closer I realized that lone man was Shia LaBeouf himself. Slightly starstruck I approached him and said, “Hey man, I was just coming down to take a picture of this. This is really cool.” Sounding like someone I’d go to Anodyne and grab a beer with he said, “Thanks man, what’s your name?” I introduced myself and he humbly said, “My name’s Shia.”
I told him I liked what he’s doing both in the creative world and the social world. I asked how long he was going to be here and he said, “Until that motherfucker’s out of office.” Then he paused and said that he shouldn’t say that, and that Trump is welcome to join him here. I asked if I could get a photo with him and he graciously obliged.
More people gradually trickled by, some getting quick photos with Shia and others digging deeper about what he was working on. One girl asked what brought him to Albuquerque and he told her that the museum in New York had kicked him out and he has since been calling all around the country trying to find a spot to house his installation. He said all the spaces he had contacted had either told him no or left him hanging. He said he reached out to someone he met at El Rey several months ago when he was here for a show and they told him yes right away.
“You’re in the right spot,” I assured him. “Yeah, I’ve heard that Albuquerque is full of passionate people,” LaBeouf responded.
Stay tuned to hewillnotdivide.us and here at Pyragraph for updates, and visit the installation outside of the El Rey Theater in downtown Albuquerque to have your voice heard across the globe. Remember, love trumps hate and united we stand!