“He Will Not Divide Us”

On January 21, 2017, Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner launched an art installation in Queens, New York. It’s no irony that it was unveiled on the same day as our new President’s inauguration, because it has everything to do with him. Outside of the Museum of the Moving Image (one of New York’s best museums) stands a wall with a small camera and microphone, and a big mantra on the wall reading “He Will Not Divide Us.” He Will Not Divide Us has allowed everyone in the neighborhood to come together and meditate while repeating the mantra together. It has allowed leftists and rightists to respectfully come together and debate “He,” his policies, and antics, as well as their personal points of view. It has even allowed Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and trolls to come together in person to make jokes, spew hate and eat pizza (all at the same time). All this happens in front of hundreds of thousands of people around the world, watching the livestream from their homes. The project will be recording live 24/7, for the next four years. At any given moment, there’s something happening on the stream. If you tune in at the right time, you might even see me there. I’ve made new friends during my occasional visits, and watchers have even sent me food while on the stream as a thank you for spreading the peace. Despite all the controversies, this stream has united us in a very weird way. He really won’t divide us after all.

people with umbrellas at art installation wall that says "HE WILL NOT DIVIDE"

Shia LaBeouf at his art installation.

people with umbrellas at art installation, in front of wall that says HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US

Youth from the local high school promise to come to the stream every day.

people in front of wall that says HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US

Political Unrest

Every year has its highs and lows, but 2016 has been one of the roughest years in recent memory. On a less serious note, terrible movies and video games have been released. More seriously though, we’ve grieved the deaths of legendary artists who’ve inspired generations of current and future artists. We’ve grieved the deaths of seemingly innocent black men, women and children who were gunned down on the street by police. And we laughed at, and now grieve the whole debacle that was the 2016 Presidential Election Race.

A protester holding a cardboard sign that says "GOP DE-EVOLUTION"

From the candidates, to the debates, to the scandals, the race was an utter mess, and as a result our country is constant worry about what the future holds.  “What will become of America when Trump is officially sworn in as president?” seems to be the most asked question.  I recently went to a Trump Protest, not as a participant, just as a photographer. The feeling of racial, political and social divide was quite disheartening. The sight of anger among protesters, lack of empathy amongst Trump supporters and apathy from the suits within the Trump Tower was disappointing to say the least.

hands holding up a sign that says "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." -Henry Ford

a mob of women protesting

There were several groups of young teens at the protest, no older than 14. They said to a nearby reporter “we’re not old enough to vote, so we feel that protesting is the only way our voices can be heard.”

But after having a 2 hour discussion with a Clinton supporter, a Trump supporter, and a man with no real allegiances, I realized that not all hope is lost. Although vastly different ideologies, beliefs and viewpoints were discussed, the fact that we could all come together and just talk to each other is a feat in itself. Right now, our country desperately needs more communication, empathy, and respect.

a woman in glasses holding a sign that says "NO TO MYRON EBELL!!!"

This is India Kotis, she’s one of people I had a 2 hour discussion with during the protest. One of her major concerns is the skepticism about climate change.

a hand making the peace sign


Get Your Head Out Your Butt and Put It High

a woman of color wearing a shawl and purple booties

Are you, or someone you know, insecure? Do you, or someone you know, feel most happy when all attention is on you? Do you, or someone you know, seek to discredit others and their relationship to find self-worth? If you answered yes to any of the previous statements then I have unprofessionally diagnosed you with low self-esteem and you need to seek therapy or start to love yourself a bit more.

I am unsure who is to blame for the lack of self-love that I come across on individuals. Is it the parents, whether neglectful or having enabling characters? Is it the individual, their lack of experiences or stubbornness to change? Either way IT DOES NOT MATTER. As a person, one must “find” themselves eventually. With finding oneself one shall LOVE ONESELF. I do not mean latching on a group, drowning in music, or seeking religion just to make yourself feel better or to find an excuse for your F’d up ways.

Unfortunately, I do not have a concrete answer. Heck, life isn’t concrete! But I do wish to bring awareness to the lack of self-love and bitterness that is within people. These same people carry hatred in their hearts and make it spread like wildfire, which inevitably cause things like war, slavery, provocative youth, suicide etc.  I am no genius but I am pretty sure hate and Donald Trump supporters are directly proportional. And for a little laugh, I dare you guys to go to Loser.com .

QUESTIONS TO THE AUDIENCE: Do you agree or disagree? Why/Why not?