The stunt, orchestrated by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and photographer/artist Spencer Tunick, featured the nude models’ nipples and genitals “with stickers of photographed male nipples, to highlight the rigid — and anachronistic — gender inequality in existing nudity policies,” the NCAC said.
“The human body has always been a central subject of art. Its representations have evolved with technologies of expression: from cave drawings, to sculpture and painting, to photography and video,” NCAC said in the We the Nipple mission statement.
“Yet leading 21st century social media platform, Instagram, the most popular platform for artists who share their work online, and its parent company, Facebook, both ban photographic representations of the nude body, while making an exception for artistic nudity in sculpture and painting.”
Even after the artistic protest Sunday – which carried the hashtag #WeTheNipple – photos from the event and inspired by the campaign were censored on social media; according to the NCAC, all posts bearing that hashtag were removed on Instagram by Monday due to “community guidelines”
“We recognize that moderating content for billions of users is challenging and draw the line between art and images that are not art is hard,” Svetlana Mintcheva, Director of Programs at NCAC, said in a statement.
“Yet, if Facebook and Instagram want to be platforms for artists, they need to modify their current overbroad ban on photographic nudity, which harms artists who work with the human body, especially those exploring issues of gender and identity. We urge the company to adopt an art-friendly policy developed with the help of a group of global stakeholders, such as arts advocates, historians, curators and artists.”