Actor Shia LaBeouf — clad in a jacket with “he will not divide us” scrawled on it — stood with his back toward a crowd of dozens in Downtown on Saturday, staying on-message when asked about his appearance in Albuquerque.
“He will not divide us,” LaBeouf repeated to various questions.
“We are anti the normalization of division. That’s it. The rest of the info is right there, chief, I got nothing else to say to you,” he said as he pointed to a placard describing the streetside performance that’s been attached to the west wall of El Rey Theater at Seventh and Central. “We’re just anti the normalization of division.”
LeBeouf and artists Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner brought their live-stream “participatory performance artwork,” anti-Donald Trump protest to the Duke City after the initial staging of the performance at a New York City museum was shut down earlier this month.
The project consists of a 24-hour live-streaming camera mounted to a wall with the message in block letters: “He will not divide us,” referring to Trump. The idea is that people will continuously go up to the camera and repeat the phrase.
The event drew a crowd into the night, with demonstrators shutting down Seventh Street for several hours in the afternoon. Nearby police officers said they didn’t plan on intervening in the event as the demonstration was peaceful.
A scruffy-looking LeBeouf, wearing his hair in a ponytail, tight ripped pants, tube socks and sneakers, spent part of the afternoon leaning against the theater wall and listening to a speech by one of the protesters. He greeted people there and took selfies with them, and smoked cigarettes in between repeating the performance mantra into the camera.
The project opened the day of the Trump inauguration. A live camera was attached to a wall at the Museum of the Moving Image. But the artists said in a statement Saturday that the museum “bowed to political pressure” and the camera was taken down Feb. 10.
Turner described the project as a “participatory performance.” He said the artists are inviting people in Albuquerque to approach the camera and repeat the phrase “He will not divide us” for the live stream.
He didn’t say why the group had picked Albuquerque as its next stop after New York, and it’s not clear how long the camera will be planted Downtown. But the group has said the project will continue throughout the Trump presidency.
“We just put the camera on,” Turner said. “Simple as that.”