He Will Not Divide Us is an ambitious, participatory, performance art project put together by Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner, and Nastja Säde Rönkkö. It started on the day President Trump was inagurated and is planned to run every day until the term is over, four years in the future. It welcomes people to stop by and say/repeat the words “he will not divide us” as many times and for as long as they would like. It started out as an anti-Trump PSA but from what I have seen on the feed, it has morphed into so much more.
I spent a bit of time the other day watching some of the feeds archived on the site and have seen, Trump supporters, anti-Trumps, and neutral parties participating in varying capacities. Some feeds are mostly dead air with a random pedestrian stopping to have a look at what’s going on, but the one feed I got hooked into watching was a whole day of YouTuber’s taking live questions on site, street artists, street performers, and dedicated civilians that believe in the message created by this project.
One thing that I noticed take shape while I was watching the feed is how the people have come together to form their own interpretation of the message. Instead of it being a message of negativity, and anti-Trumpism, it has developed to have a unifying message. One person even went so far as to say “He will unite us.” The spin here is that the people recognize that America was already divided and that instead of allowing Trump to divide us further, the people need to unite in commonality despite their differences.
Not everyone, however, is using the feed for it’s intended cause, instead using it for their own political conspiracy rants or for promotion of their individual YouTube channels; hanging out in front of the camera and somewhat stealing the show and imparting their own opinions and interpretations on curious passersby. I guess anywhere you set a stage you’re bound to attract performers. The unique collection of interpretations, comments and performances is mesmerizing to watch as a whole new community is formed between people who would never have otherwise come into contact with one another. So, in essence the project is achieving some of what it is setting out to do; prevent division and promote collaboration.
Unfortunately, as would be expected with a project of this magnitude, it has faced prejudice and even vandalism by hooligans and/or Trump supporters resulting in the project having to be moved from it’s original location in order to maintain the peace. Some people have even gone as far as to suggest that this project is actually perpetuating the divide among Americans into Trump vs. anti-Trump groups.
It is amazing to see how something like this can reach so many different people, and become something different with every person it reaches. That is an amazing quality of art; it’s ability to morph with its audience. The human experience is affected by so many variables and each person has different standpoints depending on their experiences thus far. This is also why being educated in the arts, and having access to museums and art programs is fundamentally important to society. Freedom of expression is a beautiful thing.
Check out the feed for yourself and see what message you take away from the experience.