Painter Lisa Yuskavage, the latest artist to run afoul of Instagram’s community guidelines due to her depictions of female nudity, is blasting the social media giant for allegedly censoring women’s bodies.
Yuskavage shared a photograph of herself and two topless women from a 2000 issue of Talk magazine promoting that year’s Whitney Biennial in New York.
“instagram fuckers took this down and banned my account last year. im posting it again,” she wrote. “if i disappear again off of this medium—u know what happened. and i wont try to get it back.”
When the post was promptly removed again, Yuskavage, who has over 20,000 followers, decided enough was enough.
“im canceling my account out of protest of the hateful way women and their bodies are suppressed,” she wrote, sharing a screenshot of the Instagram notification that her post was no longer available.
“Please understand why I need to pull the plug,” Yuskavage wrote in what she says will be her final Instagram post. “I just won’t participate with stupid misogynistic censorship.”
“We understand that people often disagree with what we do and don’t allow on Instagram, but with people as young as 13 using our service, we need to also consider our youngest users when we write our rules,” Stephanie Otway, a spokesperson for Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, told Artnet News in an email. “We don’t want artists to feel marginalized by us, and we’ll continue listening and responding to their concerns.”
Instagram’s official guidelines allow no nudity—not in videos, photos, or “digitally-created content,” according to the service.
It does allow “some photos of female nipples… in the context of breastfeeding, birth giving and after-birth moments, health-related situations (for example, post-mastectomy, breast cancer awareness, or gender confirmation surgery) or an act of protest… Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.”
But Instagram has often censored paintings and sculptures, such as Betty Tompkins’s hyper-realistic “Fuck Paintings,” which are based on pornography, and which earned the artist a temporary ban from the social media platform in 2019.
Last summer, artist Jac Lahav curated an online exhibition, “Instagram’s Shadow,” for 42 Social Club, the gallery he runs with wife, Nora Leech, from their home in Connecticut.
The show featured the work of 17 artists, all of whom had artworks celebrating the female body or the LGBTQ community suppressed by or removed from Instagram.
“I applaud Lisa Yuskavage for canceling her account, but she is in a unique position of power,” Lahav told Artnet News in an email. “Yuskavage doesn’t need Instagram to get her images out there. Today many artists rely on Instagram for both promotion and their income. It’s a shame they have to live post to post in fear of getting canceled.”
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