Campaign of the Week

26 October 2021

Vienna Tourist Board creates OnlyFans for NSFW art 

Tourist board uses OnlyFans account to evade censorship and promote the city’s famed artwork

In protest against the censorship rules of social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok, and to promote the city as a travel destination, the Vienna Tourist Board has opened an account on OnlyFans to showcase risqué artwork found in the Austrian capital’s museums and galleries.

The decision to promote its art through the adult-only platform – under the banner Vienna Laid Bare – stemmed from a series of suspensions and bans from social platforms. In July, Vienna’s Albertina Museum saw its TikTok account suspended and then blocked for showing works by the Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki as they featured an obscured female breast.

And, in 2019, Instagram ruled that a painting by Peter Paul Rubens violated the platform’s community standards, which prohibit depictions of nudity, even those that are ‘artistic or creative in nature’.

This year, the Leopold Museum in Vienna marked its 20th anniversary with a short film featuring Koloman Moser’s 1913 painting, Liebespaar, which shows a nude couple. Facebook and Instagram rejected the film as potentially pornographic.

An array of works are now on display on the board’s OnlyFans account, which is being promoted on the very platforms that banned the art (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc).

Early subscribers to the OnlyFans account could either claim a Vienna City Card (with benefits that include free public transport and various discounts) or a ticket to see one of the artworks in person.

‘These artworks are crucial and important to Vienna – when you think of the self-portrait by Schiele from 1910, it’s one of the most iconic artworks,’ said Helen Hartlauer, a spokesperson for the Vienna Tourist Board, in the press release. ‘If they cannot be used on a communications tool as strong as social media, it’s unfair and frustrating.’

Contagious Insight 

Virtual viewing / At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw many museums embracing virtual experiences. The Black Country Living Museum in the UK attracted 360,000 followers on TikTok by creating videos of its staff playing characters from early Industrial England, while the J Paul Getty Museum in America created a tool that allowed fans of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons to decorate their in-game environment with images from its open-access collection of artworks.

What makes the Vienna Tourist Board’s campaign interesting is that it doesn’t matter how many people visit the brand’s OnlyFans page – the contentious issue of censorship and the brand’s decision to take an unexpected political stand against it is enough to earn the tourist board great PR.

This isn’t the first time that the cultural institutions of Vienna have made their voices heard. In fact, in 2017 a woman posted a photo on Facebook of Venus of Willendorf, a 30,000-year-old statue that depicts women and fertility, but the social media platform ruled it pornographic. Vienna’s Natural History Museum released a statement arguing that ‘an archaeological object, especially such an iconic one, should not be banned from Facebook because of nudity, as no artwork should be.’ Facebook apologised. Vienna’s Tourist Board also took the debate to the streets of London that same year, with an outdoor campaign starring the works of Austrian expressionist painter Egon Schiele that were dubbed too racy to show in their full glory (unless you go to Vienna).

In with the old / While Vienna’s museums and galleries boast an array of renowned artwork (such as Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss and Albrecht Dürer’s Young Hare), the tourist board has to continually find new ways of promoting these masterpieces. By taking well-known pieces of art and putting them in a modern setting, Vienna’s tourist board is able to reignite interest in the works and increase the likelihood of travellers considering it for their next trip.

The Los Angeles Country Museum of Art caused a similar stir by creating a number of amusing ‘snaps’ on Snapchat that overlaid modern themes onto classical works of art. The British Museum even recreated its building (as well as a selection of exhibits) within Minecraft to broaden the institution’s appeal.

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