Totem & Taboo: gay cruising architecture

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It is always fascinating to see how architectural icons, in their total innocence, are appropriated by unthinkable purposes that the starchitect behind their conception would have never thought of and maybe – who knows – always wished. When the open-air lobby of the Hong Kong Bank started being used as a space of protest and gathering for Filipino female workers fighting for better working conditions, the architect claimed his building to be flexible enough to house both bankers on weekdays and social bottom-up movements on Sundays.

“Totem and Taboo: Grindr remembers the Holocaust” is an online archive of Grindr pics of people using another architectural icon to meet people. Running since 2011, this incredible collection of amateur shots of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin provides another insight into spatial appropriations for casual sex purposes. As they state on their website:

“In an age when ignorance is prevalent than ever, Grindr, the latest most addictive gay obsession, has wowed its members in relentlessly promoting the memory of the holocaust. While the gay community is being under scrutiny for promoting hedonism and alienation, this tribute seems all the more compelling. Totem and Taboo […] asks nothing more but to harness the vibrant blogosphere to Grindr users’ innovative manoeuvres to keep the memory alive, fresh and attractive.”

The Hong Kong Filipino workers just needed an open-air square protected from tropical rains to gather and share life experiences about the dramatic life as a migrant worker. In the same way that they did not strictly protest against the bank that housed them, the Berlin Memorial is not intended to offend its original function. Instead, Eisenman’s 2,711 concrete stelae could be seen as a claim to a missing Memorial to the thousands of homosexuals that were murdered in concentration camps, by providing a joyful labyrinth to celebrate social encounters today.


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