ASTORIA — Celebrity Jaden Smith was standing outside the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria Friday morning, staring into a camera to participate in a public art installation staged by fellow actor Shia LaBeouf's art collective to mark inauguration day.
LaBeouf's group, called LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner, set up a live camera outside the Museum of the Moving Image on 37th Street and 35th Avenue with the words "He Will Not Divide Us" written on the wall, inviting passersby to say the phrase as many times as they want — in response to Friday's presidential inauguration.
Smith, an actor, musician and son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, showed up at the site around 9 a.m. Friday and was repeating the phrase for more than two hours, pausing at times to close his eyes or jump up and down.
LaBeouf was also at the site with Smith on Friday, walking around off-camera in a maroon hat.
Several bystanders joined Smith in front of the camera, saying "he will not divide us" repeatedly. Some shouted the phrase while others spoke it softly. At one point, several participants linked arms as they repeated the chant.
"The mantra 'HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US' acts as a show of resistance or insistence, opposition or optimism, guided by the spirit of each individual participant and the community," a press release for the piece states.
Austin Walker, 31, said he heard about the installation on Twitter and walked over to check it out.
He spoke in front of the camera for several minutes, saying afterwards that while he appreciated the sentiment of the phrase, he thought it was an oversimplification.
"There is this assumption that before Donald Trump we were not divided, which is noble...but which I also think is not very productive or realistic," he said.
But he added that he doesn't "reject the notion of something around unification."
"Find solace today," he said.
The camera will remain open to all 24 hours a day and will be streamed continuously for the duration of President-elect Donald Trump's four year term, according to the organizers.