Swedish museum takes aim at Facebook censor

Fotografiska, a contemporary photography museum in Stockholm, has elected to censor its own promotional material for an upcoming exhibition to draw attention to Facebook's strict nudity ban.

Swedish museum takes aim at Facebook censor
Photo: Spencer E Holtaway/Fotografiska

“We censored the photographs because Facebook removed our pictures,” said Fotografiska spokesperson Jens Hollingby to The Local on Monday.

The photographs in question are by the controversial US photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and form part of a major new exhibition of his work which recently opened at the museum.

Hollingby told The Local that Facebook is an important channel for the museum to market its exhibitions and to conduct a dialogue with its fans and the decision to censor the Mapplethorpe nudes was taken with this in mind.

“Our purpose was to bring attention to the issue and to open a discussion,” he said.

Beneath the photographs, which are censored with a large blue rectangle with the text “facebook-friendly square”, the museum has explained its position:

“Facebook thinks that naked bodies cause offence. They remove our photos. For them, it does not matter if it is art or not. I you would like to see the photos in their full glory, we invite you to visit us.”

Hollingby explained however that there is some understanding for the US social networking site’s stringent censorship practices.

“It is a company which is all over the world; values differ and do not always meet with our Swedish values. We understand their position, but at the same time we don’t think that it is right,” he said.

This is not the first time liberal Swedish values have fallen foul of the Facebook censor in recent months.

In March clothing firm Björn Borg found that a pic of two naked men cavorting in an autumnal Scandinavian wood had been erased from the their page and in May a Swedish film distributor’s attempt to use an image of two women kissing in an advertising campaign suffered the Facebook veto.

Facebook’s no nudity policy furthermore stretches beyond the realms of photography with Anders Zorn’s 1905 painting ‘The Girl in the Loft’ chopped from a page run by the Danish performance artist Uwe Max Jensen in March due to the expanses of naked female flesh on view.

Those interested in viewing the selection of Robert Mapplethorpe’s work in its entirety are invited to visit the museum before the exhibition closes on October 2nd 2011.

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