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Instagram Under Fire For Deleting Artist’s Account Over Half-Nude Artwork

Photographer Dragana Jurisic says her account was deactivated after she uploaded an artwork depicting a partially naked woman

The image Dragana Jurisic uploaded to Instagram. Courtesy: Dragana Jurisic

The image Dragana Jurisic uploaded to Instagram. Courtesy: Dragana Jurisic

The image Dragana Jurisic uploaded to Instagram. Courtesy: Dragana Jurisic

Dragana Jurisic, the Dublin-based photographer and artist in residence at the Irish Museum of Art, is at the centre of a dispute with the social media platform Instagram. She says that her account was shut down for uploading one of her artworks: a naked woman with a leaf covering her breasts.

The image uploaded by Jurisic was a photograph of the artist Caoimhe Lavelle (part of Jurisic’s ‘100 Muses’ series). The leaf was added by Jurisic in accordance with Instagram’s user regulations around nudity in images. It is a test print for an exhibition Jurisic is working on at Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, which looks at Irish artists exploring the naked body. ‘It was online for about 24 hours and liked more than 500 times,’ Jurisic told frieze, ‘before the account was shut down’.

Jurisic says she uses Instagram ‘as a notebook and a digital diary’ and even though she has the images saved elsewhere, she values the comments, notes and discussions that form around her posts. Although her account has now been reinstated, she questions whether artists can now trust the social media platform as a safe archive for their work. And Jurisic says that there is a double standard in Instagram’s rules around nudity, which she thinks seem to boil down to representations of female nipples. ‘Instagram is flooded with millions of images of highly sexualised content, that they monetise on,’ she said. ‘However the female nipple ban points to inherent misogyny that’s built into these platforms.’

Instagram’s community guidelines state: ‘We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram. This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.’

There have been numerous recent cases involving social media platforms censoring artworks, citing nudity. They include Facebook shutting down accounts for uploading images of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 painting L’Origine du monde (for its depiction of female genitals), and even more improbably, photographs of the 30,000 year old Venus of Willendorf statuette.

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