OnlyFans, purveyor of sexually explicit content, has found an unlikely candidate: the Vienna Tourist Board.
Vienna, Austria’s capital city, is known amongst other things for a rich history of art, measured by its many museums and infamous artistic revolt. But the tourist board found obstacles in its path to promote the city’s art, particularly the works that feature nudity.
Turning to OnlyFans as a solution, Vienna has featured its “18+ content” on the site from artists known for “provocative” portraits, some nude, like Egon Schiele, Richard Gerstl, and Amedeo Modigliani, saying it is providing “these artworks the freedom they deserve”.
The campaign repeats the slogan, “Vienna laid bare”. Quite literally.
The board released a tongue-in-cheek teaser for their OnlyFans account: “Want to see Venus — and her Mound of Venus?” That’s one way to draw people in.
People can subscribe to the account for $3 for 31 days (a discounted rate is now in place). The regular price is $4.99 per month. Subscribers can also obtain a free Vienna City Card or a ticket to one of the city’s museums.
In a statement on their website, the board explained the perils of censorship for the promotion of their art, saying that major social media sites have prohibited or curtailed the presence of nude works.
“Vienna and its art institutions are among the casualties of this new wave of prudishness — with nude statues and famous artworks blacklisted under social media guidelines, and repeat offenders even finding their accounts temporarily suspended,” the statement reads.
OnlyFans itself nearly stooped to banning sexually explicit content earlier this year, but quickly reversed this decision after widespread protest.
Now, the site is being considered a more open-minded alternative for both people and institutions, like Vienna’s Tourist Board. This also raises the question of what is allowed on other platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. The policies for censorship and points of regulation aren’t exactly consistent when it comes to the most widely-used apps.
According to Instagram’s Community Guidelines, “Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK”, along with photos of “post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding.” Instagram gave way to photographs of holding breasts after campaigning by Nyome Nicholas-Williams last year, in order to fight discriminatory censorship practices.
And yet, Instagram has periodically censored art and artists. In 2019, a painting by Peter Paul Rubens, a Flemish artist who created numerous biblical and mythological nudes in the 16th and 17th centuries, was removed off the platform. This year the Leopold Museum, located in Vienna, was stopped from promoting a short video featuring a nude painting by Koloman Mosser. Other instance of artistic censorship are rife: for instance, in 2018, the Natural History Museum’s photograph of the Venus of Willendorf figurine was removed by Facebook, who own Instagram. The 30,000-year-old statue was deemed “pornographic”.
In other words, history is repeating itself. The artists featured on Vienna Tourist Board’s OnlyFans account were subjected to censorship centuries ago. And they’re still facing it today.
“…it hardly comes as any surprise to learn that some of their artworks fell foul of the censors over 100 years ago. And the battle against censorship still rages on: with the rise of social media, bans like these are back in headlines once again,” the Vienna Tourist Board write on their website.
With OnlyFans, Vienna’s many museums have fostered a channel of communication and promotion, fighting seemingly arbitrary censorship in other spaces of the internet. Their “NSFW” content belongs in an unrestricted home.