Those celebrating Valentine’s Day in New York’s Chelsea neighbourhood got a bigger shock than the ludicrous price of their roses.
Towering above them was a projected image best described as nightmarish: a rather intimate moment between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S President Donald Trump.
There is certainly nothing wrong with two naked men having a hug, but these particular men aren’t exactly popular right now. And the fact that Trump is depicted as pregnant just gives it an extra weird little kicker.
Business Insider reports that the image was projected on the side of the building on the corner of 15th St. and 9th Ave., which just happens to be the location of the Chelsea’s Apple Store.
The brains behind the stunt were from Hater, a tinder-style dating app that matches you up with prospective partners based on what you hate.
Underneath the image of Putin and Trump, Hater’s upside down heart logo appeared with the tagline and hashtag “Love Through Hate”. Predictably, it has spawned a few parodies, most notably one involving Kanye West and Taylor Swift.
— Hater (@LoveThroughHate) December 13, 2016
Mashable reached out to Hater for a comment and found it that it was done simply “for the lulz”. Hater CEO Brendan Alper said:
There’s a lot of animosity out there, regardless of which side you’re on. We’re just trying to make people laugh. Through humour, hate can turn into love.
Along with the projection in Chelsea, the image was also displayed at 14th St. and 8th Ave and at the corner of N.6th and Wythe in Brooklyn.
There has been conjecture that Putin has been playing Trump and also a recent controversy that suggested Trump’s ties to Russia may be more sordid. The more salacious claims appear to be unfounded, but other links appear more tangible. Michael Flynn recently resigned amid ties to Russia after a record-breaking short stint as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Priscilla Frank, writing for The Huffington Post, was critical of the projection, saying that it relies on shock factor and body-shaming rather than legitimate critique.
Frank then went on to note how other New York artists are taking a more productive approach to tackling Trump, with exhibitions such as “Muslim in New York” being held in the city.
The Putin/Trump projection is a bit like Trump himself. Regardless if you love it or hate it, you can’t look away.