Facebook, Instagram and Google+ don't understand art
by KOD Staff
With Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter becoming a daily part of all of our lives, social media websites have taken over the world. They know everything about our public and our private lives, however there are some things social media websites fail to understand. Whether it is the touching moment of a new mother breastfeeding or an intellectually stimulating artwork, the powers that be on social media just don’t get it.
Artworks from the biggest names in the art world fall foul to social media censors surprisingly regularly. From Gustav Courbet to Richard Prince and Robert Mapplethorpe, some images get students’, academics’, magazines’ and galleries’ Instagram pages blocked – no matter how iconic the artwork is. Alongside this, protest artworks can disappear from a user’s timelines, purely because Facebook decides the images are a touch too controversial.
Under the guise of “protecting children”, social media sites can remove the academically stimulating or just the mildly amusing because human anatomy is on display. This over-zealous censorship seems to suggest that any erotic arousal the monitors feel towards certain images must be mirrored by all other viewers. Regardless of the fact that, if this were the case, strip clubs would be no more – we’d all be in our local galleries.
Nudes don’t deserve vilification, and artworks that push boundaries, whether politically or socially, have a right to be seen and to be shared. In the spirit of freedom and artistic enjoyment, here are some of the artists and artworks that warrant a lot more than social media rejection.
Model Anja Rubick's erotic fashion publication, 25 Magazine, was removed from Instagram without warning earlier this year after they posted images showing the female nipple. Offending images included the above editorial shoot and, suprisingly, a catwalk image of founder Anja Rubrick in Anthony Vaccarello’s near-transparent Autum/Winter 2014 finale look - an image that had appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide.
According to the artist, Erik Ravelo's 'Los Intocables' photography series has been censored by Facebook after being uploaded to his account. Ravelo claims that the images have stopped appearing in users timelines and cannot be shared even though they initially received 18,000 likes on the site.
New York based Reuben Negron, best known for his realistic watercolour images, has had his image 'Untitled (Marley)' removed repeatedly from Google+ even after posting the images with text reading:
"NOTE: This model is demonstrating modesty by covering herself - NOT performing a sex act"
This world renowned image by Gustav Courbet has been routinely removed from Facebook user's timelines and has even lead to Facebook accounts being deleted. After complaints, Facebook still does not allow 'L'Origine Du Monde', despite it being one of the most viewed artworks at Musée d'Orsay, seen by thousands of tourists every year.
Regardless of there being no actual nudity involved, images of 'Bliss Dance', a 40 foot wire and mesh sculpture, were taken down by Facebook moderators from artist Marco Cochrane's timeline. After numerous complaints, Facebook reversed its decision, apologising to Cochrane for its unfair removal.
Front man for The Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne has repeatedly been removed from Instagram for posting images of artworks on display at WOMB Gallery. Making fun of the censorship, Coyne has even been kicked off of Instagram whilst using the username @waynewontpostpicsofnakedwomen.
After posting his controversial artwork 'Spiritual America' on his Instagram feed, veteran artist, Richard Prince was quickly removed from the site in March this year. Although this image had been censored from gallery shows previously, the removal of his popular art based account was taken by Prince, amongst others, as a personal assault on the artist:
“Getting kicked off Instagram for posting Spiritual America was strange and confusing. I felt betrayed. I know there was nothing promised, but I felt cheated. I was happy sharing my work, my snaps, my pics. I enjoyed posting pictures of my own artwork and artworks by other artists. At times it felt like curating.”
Online magazine Artlog had their popular Facebook page blocked for 24 hours, and photos removed from their timeline, after posting an image from iconic gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. This lead to many supporters contacting Facebook to point out that institutions such as Tate Modern, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Guggenheim, where Mapplethorpe's work is readily on display, are comfortable with the most graphic of Mapplethorpe's homo-erotic photography: Facebook, on the other hand, whilst claiming to support LGBT groups, censor even his most conservative works.
Want to know more about social media censorship? Guest writer Jade French looks into the misogyny of social media censorship and the Free the Nipple campaign, here.