An art piece belonging to the Natural History Museum collection in Vienna has been flagged as inappropriate by Facebook according to The Art Newspaper. The social media giant has been condemned for its policy regarding art censorship in recent times. The censorship of the art piece has upset the Vienna museum where it is on display according to Daily Mail.
The art piece is the four-inch statuette from the early stone age known as “Venus of Willendorf.” The figurine depicts a voluptuous nude woman which was discovered in the Austrian village of Willendorf in 1908. The Daily Mail reports that the 30,000 years old statue is “the most popular and best-known prehistoric representation of a woman worldwide.”
The picture of the figurine was first posted on Facebook by Italian arts activist Laura Ghianda last year, according to Daily Mail. The picture immediately went viral on the social network but was censored and tagged “dangerously pornographic.” The Natural History Museum in outrage released a statement saying, “We think that an archaeological object, especially such an iconic one, should not be banned from Facebook because of ‘nudity,’ as no artworks should be. This is the first time the museum has ever experienced censorship by Facebook even after a recent post on ‘Stone Age pornography.'”
The Art Newspaper reports that attempts to appeal the decision failed. An appeal by the Natural History Museum saying “there has never been a complaint by visitors concerning the nakedness of the figurine” was also ignored by Facebook. In December, the art activists, Ghianda wrote a post denouncing censorship on Facebook, which was shared more than 7,000 times according to The Art Newspaper.
The early Stone Age statue, The Art Newspaper reports, depicts a voluptuous woman with prominent labia and is famed for its detailed carving and realism. The director general of NHM, Christian Koeberl says,
“There is no reason […] to cover the Venus of Willendorf and hide her nudity, neither in the museum nor on social media.”
The social network closed the Facebook account of a teacher in 2011 who posted a photo of French painter Gustave Courbet’s ‘Origin of the World’ painting, which depicts female genitalia. The teacher dragged Facebook to court and is expecting a pronouncement on March 15 according to Daily Mail.