Instagram hypocrisy laid bare as artist challenges nudity rules

A Dublin-based artist whose Instagram account was deleted after she uploaded an image of her work has questioned whether artists can trust the social media site.

Dragana Jurisic, artist in residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, posted an image of a photograph from her ‘100 Muses’ series on Instagram. A portrait of artist Caoimhe Lavelle, it depicts Lavelle partially nude with a leaf covering her breasts.

The leaf served to comply with Instagram’s community guidelines, which prohibit ‘some photos of female nipples’ from being uploaded to the site. Within 24 hours, Instagram deactivated Jurisic’s account and posts shared by her friends were removed from Facebook. When Jurisic questioned Instagram she was told her account was ‘disabled for not following Terms of Use’. The site would not offer specific reasons why.

Although Instagram has since reinstated Jurisic’s account and apologised for the inconvenience, the artist questioned whether the site can be safely used as an archive for artists’ work. Jurisic uses the site as a ‘notebook and a digital diary’ and values the comments and notes offered by fellow users on her posts.

The photograph of Lavelle is a test print for an exhibition of Irish art exploring the naked  body called ‘Naked Truth’ at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork. The image had received over 500 likes by Instagram users before Jurisic’s account was deactivated.

Jurisic criticised Instagram for its hypocrisy and for what she believes is a double standard in its regulations around nudity. Her peers could understand why a nude image shared by Kim Kardashian West is acceptable and yet her work is not. “Instagram is flooded with millions of images of highly sexualised content, that they monetise on… However the female nipple ban points to inherent misogyny that’s built into these platforms”, Jurisic stated.

Jurisic also reported that she still does not have access to her account since Instagram were said to have reactivated it on the evening of 14 May 2018. 3000 of her older posts are also missing.

This is mind-boggling to me. It boils down to female nipples and hair”, Jurisic said.

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