Artist who publicly projected Grindr chats ends exhibition after complaints and protest

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An artist in Germany who projected images of Grindr chats with real, unsuspecting users, has closed the exhibition early, following complaints and a demonstration of nearly 200 people.

Berlin-based artist Dries Verhoeven had been streaming conversations with men onto the side of a building in a busy public square in the city – on the corner of Oranienstrasse and Mariannenstrasse.

The stunt was part of art project ‘Wanna Play’, which sees Mr Verhoeven flirting with men and inviting them to perform non-sexual activities, including making pancakes, playing chess, and helping him shave his beard.

The exhibition ended yesterday, Sunday 5 October, following complaints.

A Facebook group was set up, and almost 200 people attended a protest against the exhibition. The page was named “Nobody wants to play”, and included the line “this is not art.”


The protest attracted just under 200 people (Image: Nicolas Rider)

One of those involved with the protest, Sean Barker, wrote to the company Hebbel Am Ufer (HAU), which was involved with the exhibition, to say: “You’ve crossed a line. You’ve supported a project that exploits individuals, that exposes them to public scrutiny they wanted nothing to do with, and exploits their privacy for your own gain. Have you no shame?”

A spokesperson for HAU responded: “Dries Verhoeven‘s intervention „Wanna Play? – Love in Times of Grindr“ has caused strong emotional responses and critics from the queer communities as well as from the general public. Together with HAU Hebbel am Ufer, the artist has decided to temporarily leave his container on Heinrichplatz and face the public discussion in a direct conversation.”

She also provided information about a talk with the artist which took place last night.

A Grindr spokesperson previously told PinkNews: “While Grindr support the arts, what Dries Verhoeven is doing by luring Grindr users under false pretenses is entrapment.

“This is an invasion of user privacy and a potential safety issue. We encourage other users to report his profile by using the ‘flag’ function on our app, so we can take action to ban the user.  Together, we will work to keep these users out of our Grindr community.”