Google blocks ‘pornographic’ video of art attack

Search engine giant Google has blocked access to video footage of four masked men who vandalized the photo exhibition 'A history of sex' at an art gallery in Lund on Friday. Google prevented users of YouTube and Google Video from viewing the video, not for its depiction of a criminal act but because it contained images of a pornographic nature, Sydsvenskan reports.

The “pornography” to which Google referred was at the heart of Friday’s attack, when a group of people believed to have been neo-Nazis stormed into the Kulturen Gallery and smashed seven of artist Andres Serrano’s photographs with crowbars and an axe.

The four men, one of whom filmed the incident, made it clear that they disapproved of the sexual content of the exhibition. Before leaving, they distributed flyers bearing the message: “Against decadence and for a healthier culture”.

By Monday a film entitled Nationalists against degenerate “art” had been uploaded to Google Video. Set against a soundtrack of death metal music, footage of the armed attack was interspersed with samples of Serrano’s photographs and slogans questioning whether they could really be classified as art.

Soon however Google Video blocked access to the video after the clip flagged by users of the service. It later reappeared on Google’s other video platform, YouTube, this time without some of the more explicit images. But the revised version was also “removed due to terms of use violation.”

Google spokeswoman Maria Göth was reluctant to explain the decision.

“We don’t actually comment on individual videos,” she told The Local.

She had however spoken more freely after the film was removed for the second time.

“We still think there is too much porn in the film,” she told Sydsvenskan.

Maria Göth explained to The Local that Google did not remove any material unless requested to do so by its users.

“Community members can flag material that they consider inappropriate. Our policy group will then look at the video and make a decision,” she said.

Speaking about the incident, Andres Serrano could scarcely believe that his work had been vandalized in the quaint old university town of Lund.

“I was shocked and horrified,” the artist told the New York Times.

“I never expected something like this, especially in this magical town, which is so sweet I joked about it being like something out of Harry Potter.”

Curator Viveca Ohlsson said that staff at the gallery were still in shock after Friday’s events.

“The whole thing is just terrible. I couldn’t believe that something like this could happen in Sweden,” she told The Local.

Half of the fourteen photos on loan from the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York survived the attack and remain on display.

“But the part of the exhibition where the pictures were destroyed is now closed,” Viveca Ohlsson told The Local.

“We would like to open it again but at the moment there is a police investigation underway and there are also insurance issues to be dealt with,” she said.

Andres Serrano’s work has long been shrouded in controversy. His images of corpses, as well as a crucifix dipped in his own urine, are among a number of his works that have provoked fury and physical attacks.

‘A history of sex’ is no exception. The exhibition includes images of a deeply controversial nature. In one photograph, a naked woman clutches a horse’s penis, while others depict people in a series of sexual poses.