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French nude Facebook protest nipped in the bud

Hundreds of French Facebook users bared all this week in a protest against the social media site’s strict censorship of nude photos. But the “Day of Nude” protest was cut short early when Facebook's photo police took swift action.

French nude Facebook protest nipped in the bud
Nude protest. A 1940 nude study by photographer Laure Albin Guillot, landed the Jeu de Paume art gallery in touble with Facebook earlier this year. Photo: Jeu de Paume

The French have always been big on liberté and its modern Facebook users appear to be no different when it comes to nude photographs.

Upset at Facebook’s aversion to bare flesh, certain French networkers on the social media site organized a “Day of Nude on Facebook” on Monday to protest against what they see as unfair censorship.

The online event, which had more than 8,000 participants, was launched by French photographer Alain Bachellier.

He encouraged everyone to publish a nude photograph on the Facebook event page on Monday in order to highlight the “ridiculous censorship that flouts the basic rules of our freedom of expression in the name of puritanism or the moral rules of another age”.

While many appeared bold enough to put a photo of themselves on the event page, others preferred to stick to the artistic theme of the protest and post an image of a famous nude painting, France’s Huffington Post reported.

However the online show of dissent was soon nipped in the bud as bosses at the social media giant removed the event page early on Monday afternoon and reportedly suspended the accounts of certain users who had posted images.

“Facebook authorizes users to mobilize around common causes, including cultural ones, but it cannot authorize the cause itself to encourage users to disrespect the terms and conditions of use,” a spokesman for the site told AFP news agency.

“Certain publications do not fall into the artistic category and fall under pornography,” the spokesman added.

Monday’s day of action is not the first time there has been a clash in France between Facebook and the world of art over the publication of nude photos.

Earlier this year the famous Jeu de Paume art gallery in Paris had its own Facebook page temporarily closed down after it posted an image of a famous nude painting.

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ARCHITECTURE

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles

Rising high beyond an ancient Roman arena in Arles, a tall, twisted tower created by Frank Gehry shimmers in the sun, the latest futuristic addition to this southern French city known for its World Heritage sites.

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles
Gehry's Luma Tower opens in Arles, France. Photo: H I / Pixabay

The tower, which opens to the public on Saturday, is the flagship attraction of a new “creative campus” conceived by the Swiss Luma arts foundation that wants to offer artists a space to create, collaborate and showcase their work.

Gehry, the 92-year-old brain behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, wrapped 11,000 stainless steel panels around his tower above a huge glass round base.

It will house contemporary art exhibitions, a library, and offices, while the Luma Arles campus as a whole will host conferences and live performances.

From a distance, the structure reflects the changing lights of this town that inspired Van Gogh, capturing the whiteness of the limestone Alpilles mountain range nearby which glows a fierce orange when the sun sets.

Mustapha Bouhayati, the head of Luma Arles, says the town is no stranger to
imposing monuments; its ancient Roman arena and theatre have long drawn the
crowds.

The tower is just the latest addition, he says. “We’re building the heritage of tomorrow.”

Luma Arles spreads out over a huge former industrial wasteland.

Maja Hoffmann, a Swiss patron of the arts who created the foundation, says
the site took seven years to build and many more years to conceive.

Maja Hoffmann, founder and president of the Luma Foundation. Photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

Aside from the tower, Luma Arles also has exhibition and performance spaces in former industrial buildings, a phosphorescent skatepark created by South Korean artist Koo Jeong A and a sprawling public park conceived by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets.

‘Arles chose me’

The wealthy great-granddaughter of a founder of Swiss drug giant Roche, Hoffmann has for years been involved in the world of contemporary art, like her grandmother before her.

A documentary producer and arts collector, she owns photos by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus and says she hung out with Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York.

Her foundation’s stated aim is to promote artists and their work, with a special interest in environmental issues, human rights, education and culture.

She refuses to answer a question on how much the project in Arles cost. But as to why she chose the 53,000-strong town, Hoffmann responds: “I did not choose Arles, Arles chose me.”

She moved there as a baby when her father Luc Hoffmann, who co-founded WWF,
created a reserve to preserve the biodiversity of the Camargue, a region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone river delta known for its pink flamingos.

The tower reflects that, with Camargue salt used as mural panels and the
delta’s algae as textile dye.

Hoffmann says she wants her project to attract more visitors in the winter, in a town where nearly a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.

Some 190 people will be working at the Luma project over the summer, Bouhayati says, adding that Hoffman has created an “ecosystem for creation”.

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