Chus Martinez On The Deployment Of Nudity To Counter Institutional Puritanism!

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Above an example of a photo censored by Facebook.

Earlier this year Facebook censored the painting Ema by Gerhard Richter which had been posted on the platform by the Pompidou Centre in Paris to promote a Richter retrospective. After a complaint from this world-famous museum, Facebook reinstated the post and claimed it had mistaken the painting for a photograph (nude paintings and sculptures are allowed on the platform, nude photographs are not).

French blog Les Notes de Véculture described Facebook’s position as typical US  “institutional puritanism”. Why only allow nude sculptures and paintings? What’s wrong with nude photographs? There are thousands of nude photographs displayed in art galleries and museums around the world, shown alongside nude paintings and sculpture.

And let’s not forget most Facebook users aren’t world-famous museums posting images crafted by world famous artists – and so the site simply rides roughshod over most people’s right to free expression, and has no appeals system to check it’s completely arbitrary and censorious decisions.

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Facebook has been at the centre of many censorship rows. The platform has censored pictures of victims of western military imperialism and disabled the accounts of those who posted them; the site has also banned Gustave Courbet’s painting The Origin of the World and disabled the accounts of those who have posted this important art historical image.

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Origine du monde (The Origin of the World – which I can’t post above because earlier this year WordPres.com also deleted an account that posted the image for being ‘pornographic’) is an oil-on-canvas painted by French artist Gustave Courbet in 1866. It is a close-up view of the genitals and abdomen of a naked woman, lying on a bed with legs spread. The framing of the nude body, with head, arms and lower legs outside of view, emphasizes the eroticism of the work. It’s too much for Facebook and too much for WordPress too!

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