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‘Violence’ moves NY museum to shut down anti-Trump art show

NEW YORK (AFP) -- A streaming video performance installation that aimed to provide a forum for anti-Trump expression was shut down after it became “a flashpoint for violence,” New York’s Museum of the Moving Image said Friday.

The participatory project “He Will Not Divide US,” by actor Shia LaBeouf and two other artists, kicked off the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Jan. 20. It had intended to continue running throughout the new president‘s four-year term.

But according to the museum, located in the city’s Queens borough, the exhibit “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,” a statement added.

The digital art project consisted of a microphone-equipped camera mounted on one of the museum‘s exterior walls, where visitors were invited to stand and repeat the words “he will not divide us.” The footage was then live-streamed on the project’s website.

“While the installation began constructively, it deteriorated markedly,” the museum said.

LaBeouf was arrested in late January after an altercation at the project site. According to police, the actor “grabbed the scarf of a 25-year-old man” which caused the man to fall to the ground, though the motive for the skirmish was not established.

“Over the course of the installation, there have been dozens of threats of violence and numerous arrests,” the museum said, “such that police felt compelled to be stationed outside the installation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Video clips archived on the site do not show scenes of violence, though on several occasions people are recorded making aggressive statements toward LaBeouf and apparent leftist supporters.

The project website now features a static image that reads “the museum has abandoned us.”
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