Photographer Rankin launches gallery to celebrate the female body of those who are censored


Celebrity photographer Rankin unveils exhibition featuring images that have been ‘unfairly’ censored on social media

  • Photographer Rankin has curated a gallery of images that have been censored
  • THE UNSEEN spotlights unfair censorship that has happened on social media
  • Tackling topics of the female body and misogyny is high on the artist’s list

Celebrity photographer Rankin has unveiled an exhibition featuring images that have been ‘unfairly’ censored on social media. 

The British photographer, real name John Rankin Waddell, who has worked with Kate Moss, Madonna, David Bowie and the Queen, said: ‘Censorship is a tool, but one that is often used inadvertently to silence marginalised voices.’ 

Statistics have shown that 29.6 per cent of content relating to the female body and experiences relating to sexism or misogyny taken down. One in 10 posts about homophobia are also removed. 

Beija London had this image taken down after being labelled as 'adult content'. The brand appealed but nothing happened

Beija London had this image taken down after being labelled as ‘adult content’. The brand appealed but nothing happened 

This image from lesbian photographer Renee Jacobs was censored for nudity mostly and once for 'soliciting sex work.' Renee explains that even her tames, most censored images get pulled

This image from lesbian photographer Renee Jacobs was censored for nudity mostly and once for ‘soliciting sex work.’ Renee explains that even her tames, most censored images get pulled

THE UNSEEN is highlighting this breadth and of censorship, and those who have joined the community showcase the core reasons marginalised people feel they are being censored.

Lingerie brands such as Beija London are featured in the gallery, after they had images taken down for ‘adult content.’

The brand said: ‘Social media and advertising giants are a great force which controls how women are represented. 

‘Female “nudity” is managed in such a way that the images we’re served are heavily censored and often totally hyper-sexualised.

‘Female nipples,” and “excessing visible skin” would all be deemed a violation of community guidelines regardless of the intent. Our brand is penalised constantly for this which affects our reach as an independent brand.’ 

This image posted by the photographer AdeY was removed because the platform deemed it unsafe and sexuality explicit. The photographer explains that their work is not and has been fighting this battle for many years and once wrote a public letter to Instagram

This image posted by the photographer AdeY was removed because the platform deemed it unsafe and sexuality explicit. The photographer explains that their work is not and has been fighting this battle for many years and once wrote a public letter to Instagram

Lesbian photographer Renee Jacobs has also had her work censored on social media. 

She has had images pulled mainly for nudity, but once for ‘soliciting sex work.’ 

Renee explains that she has never once knowingly or intentionally violated social media rules. 

She said: ‘There is no question that heavy-handed censorship has a chilling effect on queer speech, thought and action. The algorithms are mindless and childish.’ 

This image from Imogen Rolfe was censored because it was deemed against community guidelines. The artist said: 'It was really disheartening as I was steadily growing my account and art business during the pandemic and it was the one thing keeping me going'

This image from Imogen Rolfe was censored because it was deemed against community guidelines. The artist said: ‘It was really disheartening as I was steadily growing my account and art business during the pandemic and it was the one thing keeping me going’

Samra Lovelady woke up one morning to discover that Instagram had removed her fitness account with no reason given. She reveals that this has had a huge impact on her life as she used the account to deal with her depression

Samra Lovelady woke up one morning to discover that Instagram had removed her fitness account with no reason given. She reveals that this has had a huge impact on her life as she used the account to deal with her depression

UNSEEN community member Dr Carolina Are said: ‘It’s a continuous, frustrating game of whack-a-mole with platforms, so much so that I’ve ended up blending my PhD in the moderation of online abuse with my experiences of censorship.’ 

Rankin added: ‘We’ve had an incredible response so far, and we’re just getting started. This is an important issue, and those affected deserve to have a voice in the policies that affect them on the platforms they love and build their businesses on.’ 

The project has generated incredible interest, even at it’s early stages, with hundreds of people from all over the world sharing their stories and joining the discussion. 

  • The exhibition is open to the public at Quantus Gallery 11-29 Fashion Street, London, E1 6PX.

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