Against the censorship of nudity on the networks, the museums of Vienna play the provoc ‘

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Vienna (AFP)

A stroke of brilliance imagined by the Tourist Office of the Austrian capital, which coordinated the operation, to “open the debate on the role of algorithms and tech giants in art”, underlines its director Norbert Kettner.

Launched in September, the account has attracted several hundred subscribers thanks to the recent media hype, but the “bold” initiative aims above all to defend “artistic freedom”.

The idea, explains Mr. Kettner to AFP, arose from “difficulties” encountered by museums “in their promotional work on social networks”, with a very strict policy on nudity and the fight against pornography. .

“Ridicule”

And to cite the example of the “Venus of Willendorf”, a statuette of a naked and buxom woman exhibited at the Museum of Natural History.

“It is a fertility symbol figurine almost 30,000 years old” and considered a masterpiece of Paleolithic art. Yet “Facebook has classified it in pornographic content!”, He protests.

“It is strange and even ridiculous that nowadays, nudity” is still the subject of controversy, “when it should be natural”, abounds Klaus Pokorny, spokesperson for the Leopold Museum.

His erotic representations of Schiele are regularly censored by social networks, as if nothing had changed a hundred years after the death of this major figure of Viennese Modernism who caused a scandal.

Reproduction of “The Embrace” a work created in 1917 by the Austrian painter Egon Schiele AFP

In another popular place in Vienna, the Albertina, paintings by the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani are considered too “explicit”.

“It is forced and forced that we opened an account on OnlyFans”, insists Mr. Pokorny. Because “the most famous international platforms like TikTok, Facebook or Instagram did not accept our webs”.

Thomas Schlesser, author of a book entitled “Art in the Face of Censorship,” considers it “a rather malignant initiative.”

“By switching to the OnlyFans network, the works in fact resume the provocative or even pornographic character that they could have in their time”, comments this art historian, director of the Hartung-Bergman Foundation.

“Self-censorship”

The issue goes beyond classical art, adds the head of the Tourist Office. He observes an “unconscious self-censorship of many young creators”, who cannot deprive themselves of the visibility offered by Facebook and others.

The latter, often criticized for the automatic removal of images, ensure that their rules have evolved and have become more “nuanced”, to make exceptions in terms of nudity in the case, for example, of art.

“They said they had made efforts,” comments Olivier Ertzscheid, teacher-researcher in information science at the University of Nantes.

“But the reality is that concerning the representation of bodies (especially female), nothing has really changed, whether or not it is an artistic form,” he said, referring to a “form of prudery or prudish marketing “.

Asked by AFP, Facebook did not respond immediately.

Can we expect progress? Norbert Kettner hopes for “discussions” but he has so far not been approached.

And he unashamedly assumes the city’s association with the OnlyFans site, which has established itself for several years as a major destination for creators of paid erotic or pornographic content.

Viennese museums join forces with the Onlyfans platform, October 21, 2021
Viennese museums join forces with the Onlyfans platform, October 21, 2021 Lionel BONAVENTURE AFP

In search of a more respectable image, the platform with 150 million users now focuses on videos of cooking recipes, fitness or health advice.

Arguments taken up by the Viennese museums to defend their approach, which is not intended to last.

“It is not a question of our success on social networks, but a question of principle”, summarizes Klaus Pokorny. “It’s like a war with other means: we fight for our rights, our freedom, against people who want to regulate our lives.”

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