As if Valentine’s Day weren’t anxiety-inducing enough, an image of President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin in love ― and expecting! ― gave New Yorkers something else to complain about on the romantic holiday.
The image of Putin and Trump in the buff, with the American president boasting a hefty baby bump, was projected onto buildings in the New York neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Chelsea on Tuesday night alongside the hashtag #LoveThroughHate.
It is not easy to unsee.
The public installation seems to be part of a viral ad campaign by a dating app called Hater, which matches up potential lovers according to their mutual dislikes. But surely, many a dater would hate a marketing ploy so desperate as this one.
When asked for a comment about the project, a representative for Hater told The Huffington Post over Twitter: “There’s a lot of animosity out there, regardless of what side you’re on. We’re just trying to make people laugh. Through humor, hate can turn into love.”
It’s an interesting sentiment, given the huge role humor played in Trump’s election.
The ad employs an odd choice of imagery for a dating app on Valentine’s Day, considering few people might kill the mood these days quite like Trump. And like some of the other Trump-centric artworks that have graced New York over the past year, the projection unfortunately relies on shock factor and bizarre, body-shaming tactics instead of legitimate critique.
There are, thankfully, artists and institutions who have approached Trump’s presidency in more productive ways. An exhibition called “Muslim in New York” responds to Trump’s travel ban with a subtle tribute to the legacy of Muslim life in the city’s five boroughs. And the Museum of Modern Art hung work by artists from majority-Muslim nations on its walls.
Additionally, illustrators have stepped up to the plate, exchanging their work for donations to the ACLU. Certain illustrators like Shing Yin Khor and Abigail Gray Swartz have rendered powerful, constructive pieces that communicate the values and mission of resistance.
Exploitative attempts at edginess, like Hater’s, pale in comparison to the work of these activist artists. If anyone else feels the same, well, we should go out.