By Ruth Skilbeck
Yesterday I posted an article on my blog on Sex, Art and the Inner World: Women Artists Reclaiming their Creative Birth Right, which looks at cultural issues of changing attitudes to sexuality in western culture, and relating this to women contemporary artists practices since the 1970s women's art movement of feminism in the 70s. This is in the field of my research as a feminist arts writer (and also novel in progress). This has been a tremendously popular article- I usually receive about 100-200 blog hits a day. Yesterday, my blog had 1,675 views and this was in response to this article with hundreds of views again today and rapidly climbing. This morning the article had almost 200 'likes' and has been shared many times on Facebook (I know because I have seen this in the news feed). However - mid morning all the 'likes' disappeared from the post- on this blog. And there is no record of the number of 'shares' it has had and is still getting on Facebook.
I can only assume this is some form of 'sabotage' or blocking because of the subject matter. All the artists in the post are working as contemporary artists in Australia and have mainstream gallery representation. Their work is in private and public galleries and the works shown in the article are well known, and have been displayed in public galleries. This has not happened to any other articles on this blog - a recent post I wrote on A Homage to (Censored) Women Artists on International Women's Day still shows the "shares' record, and also the number of 'likes' on the blog - so I can only suspect, at this point, that there is some attempt going on to hide the popularity of the article and its contents. It has attracted very positive responses (in Facebook comments) and views from all around the world.
Considering that writers and artists are now required to use social media platforms, blogs and Facebook, to work and to build up their audience, this would appear to be a very heinous act- as it appears that it is an attempt to sabotage me - and also the artists I write about- by erasing evidence of my popularity of the post (and writer) and subject matter (the artists and their work). When artists and writers only survive nowadays by being able to demonstrate popular support and support from their communities, to remove the 'likes' and 'shares' of this post, has significant implications for my reputation and for that of the artists in the post. Rather than being able to show how popular and much liked the article is - the evidence has been removed.
Given that Facebook and blogs social media platforms are supposed to be a forum for popular opinion and a way that people can express their views and preferences for cultural products, through ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ - this appears to be an attempt at sabotage . If all evidence of the popularity of my writing is removed, this is a way of thwarting my chances of building my audience, getting my work published - as publishers also require to see how popular one's work is. As I am currently not employed in any other capacity apart from writing, and in the stages of approaching publishers to publish my books, I need to show evidence of impact of my writing. I am not paid to write on my blog. And I spend a great deal of time and care on writing, about causes and art and artists that I think are important. As a journalist I used to be well paid for my writing- as a blogger I do far more work (it seems like) for nothing. And like most artists live in a state of penury. All we have is our work, and passion, and to be censored and thwarted at every move is very disheartening.
However, like Diane Mantzaris whose work I show in the article, and who has been discussing her experiences of censorship through social media and in media interviews, it will not stop me, and I will continue to write and approach publishers regardless, including on this significant and very popular topic of public interest - women artists representations of sexuality and subjectivity and the inner world- which I now know does have so much interest and support from women, and men, around the world.