Angry Grindr users in Berlin are seeking legal action over an ‘art’ project taking place in the centre of a busy square.
For the next two weeks, Dutch gay artist Dries Verhoeven is sitting in a glass-walled container and is airing his Grindr conversations – live and unedited – on screens and online.
His intention is to recruit a steady flow of men into his box for various non-sexual activities such as playing chess, having breakfast or shaving each other’s beards.
The project is called Wanna Play?
But many Grindr users don’t consider the art playful, some consider it to be a gross invasion of their privacy.
Others say they have felt manipulated into acting oddly or writing messages that they would never have done if it was being broadcast for the world to see.
Parker Tilghman is one of the men furious over the art show. When he started chatting to Verhoeven, they traded pictures and chatted for awhile before he was asked whether he was interested in shaving the artist’s beard.
‘Given the odd nature of our conversation I comically asked, “are you going to murder me?” to which he responded, “no, but i’m afraid you might be the one to murder me.”
When Tilghman went to the address the artist gave him, standing on the corner of Marienenstrasse, he saw his Grindr chat out there for everyone to see.
‘Someone involved in the project confronted me and I shouted at him louder than I have ever shouted in my life. The entire block stopped, at one point they started clapping. I screamed, “How dare you?
‘”You are violating peoples lives, you are publicly mocking people and projecting the pictures and words onto a screen that an entire city block in one of the busiest parts of Kreuzberg for everyone to see.
‘”What you are doing is unethical….At no point did you have my consent or notify me that you would be doing anything of the sort. You cannot exploit people like this for your bullshit hipster Berlin art world crap.”‘
Verhoeven apparently sent him a message later that night, saying he was ‘so sorry’. Tilghman, unsurprisingly, did not accept his apology.
The artist has defended the project, saying it allows people to ‘gaze into a world that had previously been hidden from them’.
Following Tilghman’s outrage, other gay men of Berlin have caught wind of the art show. Several are consulting lawyers.
One such conversation that Verhoeven recently had went like this: