Last month, gunshots prompted the temporary halt of Shia LaBeouf's anti-Trump live-stream project in New Mexico. Now He Will Not Divide Us is back, but it's evolved — and it's going global with its message of resistance.
LaBeouf and his collaborators, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner, have taken He Will Not Divide Us across the pond to Liverpool, where the English city will host the installation at the FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). Unlike the iterations at New York's Museum of the Moving Image and at Albuquerque's El Rey Theater, the Liverpool installation doesn't involve audience engagement: Instead of encouraging visitors to repeat "he will not divide us" into a continuously streaming camera throughout the duration of Trump's presidency, LaBeouf, Rönkkö, and Turner have focused the lens in Liverpool on a flag bearing the project's name.
There's a reason for this sizable shift, and it's rooted in preventing violence from overshadowing their mission and obscuring their message. He Will Not Divide Us is no longer a "participatory performance artwork" in the manner in which they initially intended.
FACT recounts how the "constant disruption and hate speech by far-right extremists" and the removal of "institutional support" from the Museum of the Moving Image is what prompted them to shut down the New York live stream and relocate to Albuquerque. Problems followed them there, too: People were interested in the live stream in New Mexico, but "due to disruption by neo-Nazis, and after gunshots were fired in the vicinity, although unrelated to the project, the artists were unable to continue to keep the installation open to the public."
The change from a crowd-facing camera to one filming the flag happened on March 8 at an undisclosed location, but they were thwarted again: "Escalating threats and criminal activity coordinated via online message boards 4chan and 8chan, which included the theft and defacement of the artwork by white supremacists, and a field at the location being set on fire, the artists have now been forced to site the project outside of the United States."
That's where FACT comes in. For LaBeouf, Rönkkö, and Turner, the reason for the move is simple: "Events have shown that America is simply not safe enough for this artwork to exist." Based on the hurdles they've jumped so far, it's easy to see why.