Monday, January 25, 2021

The Pros and Cons of Artists and Social Media


Without question, social media has transformed how many artists interact with the public, how they brand themselves, and the very nature of how they disperse their work. But where social media opens avenues for reaching new, arguably larger audiences, in turn it forces stricter boundaries on them.

Not only are works confined to the rectangle of a phone screen, they are more abstractly restrained to “Community Guidelines” or “Terms of Service” within the social media platforms. Instagram’s “Community Guidelines” for example bans nudity, and states “always follow the law.” When social media platform subscriptions overpower museum visitation and become the main source for artists to show their work, this censorship is of a dangerous sort. It is not solely censoring artists within the social media platform, but necessarily, it is censoring artists work entirely. Further, social media platforms censor posts by museums, often the censored posts are ancient sculptures or famous and historical works.

Social media platforms will often eliminate artist’s accounts entirely, as punishment for their continued dismissal of the “community guidelines.” This leads to artists, to prevent being locked out of their account, self-censoring their work.  Social media does not affect all artists negatively. Artists like Richard Prince have capitalized on exploiting the platforms, creating entire bodies of work in reaction to Instagram on Instagram (and in print). As exemplified by Prince and many other artists, social media has given artists an opportunity to brand themselves and gain attention interacting with other social media users on such a public platform. Arguably, Instagram and the like have opened a new performance space for contemporary artists, assuming they fit their work into the “Community Guidelines,” that is.


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