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A still from the HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US live stream, which has now relocated to New Mexicovia hewillnotdivide.us

LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner re-open HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US

The art trio was reportedly informed of the Museum of Moving Image’s withdrawal from the project through an email from an attorney who also represents Trump

Less than one month after LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner’s durational project HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US was launched on 20 January by Jaden Smith chanting “He will not divide us”, the plug on its live stream was pulled. Originally planned to span four years – or however long Trump managed to remain as POTUS – it lasted 21 days at its original site and was shutdown on 10 February. LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner confirmed its closure by tweeting “THE MUSEUM HAS ABANDONED US” but stressed that they hadn’t.

The stream remained blank for eight days before a statement released by the art trio over the weekend announced that the performance had found a new home outside of the El Rey Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Condemning the Museum of Moving Image’s lack of commitment to the project, the statement also explained that the museum had failed to understand the intent of the performance.

“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.”

During its time in New York, most of what was written about HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US chose to focus only on its more sensational moments – a Nazi being shut down for LaBeouf (and the artist’s subsequent arrest), a duo gutting a soft toy with a knife, and reports that alt-right supporters were using 4chan to disrupt the project – rather than the unity it was bringing to a previously quiet corner in Queens. It was also regularly reported that the project was anti-Trump, however LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner were vocal of the project’s intent from its early stages, with LaBeouf revealing “I hope everyone comes out: pro this, pro that, anti this, anti that... Just be nice... You can be about whatever you’re about”.

“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” – LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner

While police were deployed to permanently survey the site, the artists’ statement criticised the museum’s failure to respond to their requests to implement a system to report hate crime that was happening on the site.

“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”.

In a statement released by the Museum of Moving Image regarding its withdrawal from the project, it noted that the installation posed “a serious and ongoing public safety hazard for the Museum, its visitors, staff, local residents, and businesses”, adding it “had become a flashpoint for violence and was disrupted from its original intent.” It also flagged LaBeouf’s arrest as a turning point.

Despite the museum’s claim that ending the project was in the public’s interests of safety, LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner believe that it instead bowed to political pressures and that the artists were only informed of the withdrawal via an email from the museum’s attorney, Brendan O’Rourke, who the artists allege also represents President Trump.

Dazed Digital has reached out to the museum to comment on these new accusations, we have yet to receive a response.

Read the full statement here