Erotic art is nothing new. In fact, archaeologists believe that erotic art dates back as far as 37,000 years ago. That’s right. Even cavemen drew genitals. Take a look further down the line and Renaissance artists celebrate the natural formations of the body, painting nudes in what seems to be every other painting. Why then, in a world that promotes free speech and liberal values, are erotic artists being censored on Instagram?
Instagram’s community guidelines state that they restrict images of female bodies that display exposed genitalia and nipples in order to protect the members of the community who may be sensitive to certain content. However, they will allow “photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depict nude figures”. In reality, this is not the case; erotic artists are regularly having their posts removed.
Regards Coupables and Frida Castelli are just two of the numerous artists fighting Instagram’s attempts to censor their art.
With a whopping 992,000 followers, it’s hard to believe that Regards Coupables is still having their minimalistic, erotic line art censored by the platform. However, as Regards Coupables has stated before, the bigger the following, the greater the potential for posts being reported. Just this January the artist uploaded a picture of Instagram guidelines censoring their work, accusing them of sharing images illustrating the solicitation of sex. Regards Coupables has expressed in multiple interviews and social media posts that their work is based on the intimate relationships between bodies and people. Yes, the work is perhaps more explicit than the majority of other artworks being uploaded onto the social media platform, but the intent and meaning behind Regards Coupables’ work is no less important and poignant than that of any other artist.
Frida Castelli shares similar issues with Instagram’s censorship policies. Described in Castelli’s own words as “eromantic”, her work explores sensual stories and moments. In order to appease Instagram’s anti-obscenity regulations, Castelli admits to self-censoring some of her pieces by covering nipples or genitalia. It makes you wonder: how are these nipples any different to those which are frequently seen within the walls of a museum or gallery?
By censoring works in this way, Instagram is not viewing erotic art as ‘legitimate’. If these pieces were hung on the walls of a gallery or posted by an established art institution’s Instagram page, the platform would be unlikely to censor them in the same way. Of course, just because a gallery or museum tells us to think of something as art, or they choose certain works to display over others, it does not mean that erotic art shared via Instagram is any less legitimate.
Artistic freedom can never be stopped. With follower numbers only increasing for artists such as Regards Coupables and Frida Castelli, the support behind erotic art is helping to keep these artists’ pages alive. However, unfortunately, support can only go so far, and unless Instagram begins to fulfil the promises stated in their guidelines, erotic art will continue to be unfairly pulled down.