Actor Shia LaBeouf's exhibit shut down

US actor Shia LaBeouf at his He Will Not Divide Us exhibit outside the Museum of the Moving Image in the Queens borough of New York City on Jan 24, 2017.
US actor Shia LaBeouf at his He Will Not Divide Us exhibit outside the Museum of the Moving Image in the Queens borough of New York City on Jan 24, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK • A museum in Queens has shut down an online art installation by actor Shia LaBeouf, calling it a "serious and ongoing public safety hazard" after he was arrested and the exhibit became a target for threats of violence.

The participatory exhibit, He Will Not Divide Us, was a collaboration between LaBeouf and artists Luke Turner and Nastja Sade Ronkko. Intended as a rebuke to United States President Donald Trump, the exhibit hinged on a video camera mounted outside the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens' Astoria neighbourhood. Passers-by were invited to repeat the phrase "he will not divide us". The aim was to stream online images of people repeating those words throughout Mr Trump's time in office.

After it began on Jan 20, the exhibition quickly became a hot spot for politically charged confrontations and the video camera caught it all. LaBeouf himself made several appearances. In one, he squared off against a man who made reference to white supremacist ideologies. In another, he was arrested and led away from the scene by police officers.

The museum cited LaBeouf's arrest, along with "dozens of threats of violence and numerous arrests", in announcing that it had closed the exhibit. "The installation had become a flash point for violence and was disrupted from its original intent," it said in a statement.

Last Friday, the exhibit's website had replaced its video stream with the words, "The museum has abandoned us", in stark white against black. "On February 10, 2017, the Museum of the Moving Image abandoned the project. The artists, however, have not."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2017, with the headline 'Actor Shia LaBeouf's exhibit shut down'. Print Edition | Subscribe