Our Facebook account blocked only days from the start of Sight & Sound festival… We are less than two weeks from the launch of our annual festival (May 20th) – around the theme “Science Faction” – and our access to social networks is blocked. An inconceivable situation, that one would never even dream of – days from the start of an international digital art festival and prevented from communicating on the Web.
All the more frustrating of a situation, as we are a non-profit artist-run centre, and by definition, do not have the kind of budget that would allow for a major advertising campaign. As you can imagine, we rely heavily on viral promotion, more than on any other means of communication to reach out to our audience.
How did this happen? Two photographs that we posted to our profile this week, to illustrate some of the performances taking place during the festival, were “reported” no less than three times to Facebook for being judged as “abusive content”. Since when should an image, which, yes perhaps strange – de facto, since the performances in question are daring, not to say even intentionally destabilising – and depicting only a naked body on which one could not even see a millimetre of genitalia if one tried, be considered pornographic, or in any case, obscene?
Need we mention that in this particular case the photographs in question are solely documentation of artworks, not the artworks themselves, in which nothing, absolutely nothing, could be considered obscene, or even erotic. Destabilising, sure. We are truly sorry to see that one of art’s most important objectives, that is to raise questions and, perhaps, from time to time, make things uneasy for the public, is not quite as evident to all as we might have hoped.
Our account is, as of yesterday, now blocked for three full days… (NB: we are referring to our profile, and not to our page, which is still active, but with far fewer followers. Liking the page to keep up to speed on our ensuing misadventures would be all the more appreciated).
What better way to illustrate the paradoxes of this world, in which means of communication and free expression are just as powerful and open, as they are fragile and so easily misused for, ostensibly, doubtful purposes? Might we not, at this point, bring attention to the fact that our approach towards digital art is, fittingly, constructive, as it is critical and question raising?
Will the artistic community and the press support us better, if not more sensibly, than so-called open networks in this absurd situation?