Censorpedia: An Interactive Database of Censorship Incidents

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Featured Case


Artist: Chelsea Handler

Year: 2014

Date of Action: October 30, 2014

Region: North America

Subject: Nudity

Medium: Internet, Photography, Public Speech

Confronting Bodies: Instagram

Description of Artwork: In a photo she uploaded to her Instagram page, comedian Chelsea Handler is photographed on a horse topless, with full exposure of her breasts, wearing only her jeans and a helmet. She posted this photo alongside a similar photograph of Russian president Vladimir Putin in which he is horseback and topless as well. The photograph was captioned "anything a man can do, a woman has the right to do better. #kremlin".

The Incident: The photo was removed almost immediately from the social media site, but left Handler's Instagram account in tact. Instagram claims the photo posted by Handler was in violation of their community guidelines which state "accounts found sharing nudity or mature content will be disabled".

Results of Incident: Following the deletion of her post, Handler posted a follow up photo of her violation notification from Instagram. The screenshot was captioned "If a man posts a photo of his nipples, its okay, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?". She later re-posted the initial photo of her on horseback that was taken down with the caption, "If Instagram takes this down you are saying that Vladimir Putin had more first amendment rights than me". That post was then shortly deleted by Instagram.


What is Censorpedia?

Censorpedia is a crowdsourced online database of censorship cases within the arts and in culture. It is aimed at those researching censorship, at activists working for freedom of expression and at artists and other cultural producers whose expression has been subject to censorship or attempted censorship.

Censorpedia documents censorship incidents by providing the who, what, when, where and why. By providing a repository of information about what is vulnerable to censorship and about the strategies and tactics that have defeated previous’ censorship attempts, Censorpedia aids the fight for free expression.

Researchers can search for a specific case, year or keyword using the search box, as well as browse by medium, by grounds for censorship, or explore a random case.

Activists can search for ongoing cases or contribute a case that is ongoing or recently resolved.

Artists and cultural producers are similarly invited to add cases they are directly involved with or are familiar with first hand.

Censorpedia builds on the landmark 1994 art project The File Room, initiated by Muntadas.

For more information about censorship visit our Annotated Bibliography

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