Pius XIII: What do you find so sensual in that statuette [Venus de Willendorf]”?
Cardinal Voiello: I prefer not to inquire into my psyche.
‘The Young Pope’
A small limestone statuette representing a woman with voluminous breasts, buttocks and vulva is the object of carnal desire for Cardinal Angelo Voiello, the insidious Vatican Secretary of State in the series The Young Pope. He cannot touch it, nor possess it, because the Venus of Willendorf is always safe in the office of chaste Lenny Belardo (Pope Pius XIII), who sees in it the practical object of his existence on Earth.
The Vicar of Christ, the orphan, without the possibility of procreating, does not seek God because he does not believe in him, only in the hedonism represented by that Paleolithic figurine found a hundred years ago on an Austrian bank of the Danube. Nobody knows for sure if it represents a witch or a madrasah, it does not matter because despite the unlimited idealism of its forms, it turns out that for artificial intelligence (AI) – which in social networks does not impose tolerance quotas on images of massacres, war disasters and speeches by criminal leaders — is erotically highly exalted and damaging, acquiring the stigma of wrongdoing.
The codes of good practice of Facebook, Twitter, TikTok or Instagram do not support bodies without clothes. It is virtually impossible to trace images that include nudity, even if they are artistic
Not only has this innocent piece of divinity been censored; the codes of good practices of Facebook, Twitter, TikTok or Instagram, in charge of transforming the screens of our mobiles into personalized shops and newspapers, include the non-dissemination of bodies – or parts – without clothes because they are considered pornographic, so that nowadays It is virtually impossible to trace images that include nudity or explicit sexual content, it does not matter if they are artistic, of vindication of the own body (it will make a difference if a woman squeezes her breasts or not, if she breastfeeds a baby, or if the nipple is of a male or female), all could be offensive or threatening to an innocent mind. Said with the mischievous simplicity of Mae West: “I believe in censorship: after all, I have made a fortune on it.”
Network algorithms fight corruption caused by pornographic consumption. It is argued that if they allowed a photo of a body discovered for artistic or sanitary reasons, the accounts dedicated to the sex trade would find a way to spread their proposals or photos, disguising themselves as sanitary or artistic campaigns. Curiously, the opposite occurs. And the figurine of Willendorf, that imperative of enjoyment superego de Voiello (whose original is in the Museum of Natural History in Vienna) is the Angel of Confirmation. His image is being censored by the prudishness installed in the abysmal relativity of social networks but, paradoxically, it has ended up helping to set the context to reinforce the situation that was wanted to be avoided. Imagination always provides profitable relief to inopportune hypocritical minds.
A few days ago, news broke that Vienna’s museums, through the Tourist Board, have decided to join the OnlyFans porn subscription platform to bypass the almost general censorship of social media nudity. Some, such as the Albertina or the Leopold Museum, have had problems publishing images such as the one mentioned from the exciting Venus of Willendorf, also from works by renowned authors, such as Egon Schiele and Koloman Moser, whose works had already been the subject of conflict with the censors more than a hundred years ago. “With the rise of social media – say representatives of the Austrian capital city council – bans like these are making headlines once again.”
If you subscribe to your account at OnlyFans, you will be able to see the “provocative works of Modigliani, Moser, Schiele or Rubens that are in our museums”, promise the Viennese art galleries
His response has been to join the paid porn platform: “Are you daring enough to take a look at Naked Vienna on OnlyFans?” If you subscribe, you will be able to see the “provocative works of Modigliani, Richard Gerstl, Moser, Schiele or Rubens that are in our museums”, they say with the peculiar kindness of the serpent in the paradise of temptations. In addition, they announce, all “open-minded subscribers who sign up for the account will get a city card or a ticket to see those paintings live.” Norbert Kettner, director of the Vienna tourist office, specifies that OnlyFans is not a definitive solution, for now “it serves to denounce censorship, it is a way to start talking about the role that artificial intelligence has in our lives and how to deal with the nudity that occurred in art a hundred years ago ”.
Not only are Vienna’s museums suffering from censorship online. Social media algorithms crawl both the pages of the world’s leading arts institutions – the Smithsonian, Boston Fine Arts, the Metropolitan – and posts by emerging artists, which at best discover images of their own. works overprinted with a black plaster on the parts considered obscene. How does AI activity influence self-censorship? In the end, as in the case of Cardinal Voiello, it would be about the inner freedom of being or not being bothered by the superego. The work of art is nothing if it does not disturb or annoy, if it does not serve to transgress the moralities of the new catechesis that emerged from the spectacle and the simulacrum.
More than three decades ago, a collective of women artists hidden under gorilla masks, the Guerrilla Girls (guerrilla and gorilla are pronounced the same in English) burst into the Metropolitan Museum in New York with a banner showing the iconic odalisque of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres behind a primate mask. In large, strident letters, it could be read: “Do women have to be naked to enter the MET? In contemporary art collections, only 5% of the artists exhibited are women, but 85% of the nudes shown are female ”.
Again here we are women, looping, like fawns caught by headlights in the darkness of these times. That museums end up placing them on the pornographic pages of a social network is one of the worst-told jokes in history.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.