From the first day I revelead the cover artwork for “Gjennom meg går ingen til hvile” it got taken down by the censorship algorithms on social media. It instantly limited the reach of my posts and content, and effectively created a shadow ban where content related to Minneriket was hidden from followers feed. The same thing happend before after Minneriket released an album with covers of the Norwegian Black Metal band Burzum. All posts were removed and I was unwillingly silenced. This time, even with the use of hashtags posts were hidden from all discover functions.
Mainstream social media categorized the album artwork as sexualized content for adults. After contacting Facebook to get a more detailed explanation I was told that “too much skin or cleavage, even in photos not sexually explicit” would trigger their algorithms and be removed. Appealing this decision was of no use, and that’s a verdict you really can’t argue with. In this ongoing vendetta against censorhip even having Facebook, or Meta as they’re named now, acknowledging that the artwork is not sexually explicit is a small win after it was earlier flagged and removed for “obscenity and/or pornography”.
Before I digress too much, I have to say that Facebook even showed me photos of nakedness which would be allowed (no, I did not ask for examples…). Among their examples was full on genital nudity, but in the shape of marble statues. Effectivly showing more, and, by their own standards being a lot more obscene, but still being labeled as art. And here we go…
People say that art and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that means the audience will have to be able to experience it to actually acknowledge it. Since “Gjennom meg går ingen til hvile” is scheduled to release in just a few weeks doing a certain amount of promotional work is necessary. Having an album cover automaticly removed and limiting reach for posts makes this difficult in these days where social media is the true underground and networks are built. Even supporters who have re-posted and acted in good faith have now been flagged for breach of whatever is the different platforms code of conduct.
My next strategy was thus to not show the album art, but to link to the store where you can pre-order the album. Bad move. That got me banned from doing any kind of boosted posts or paid advertising, because now there has even been an attempt for economic profit from what they have previously labeled as graphic obscenity. It’s like I could just as well have advertised an OnlyFans-account with a soundtrack.
Nudity in art is nothing new. I’d love to chip at how these interpretations of the mainstream social media and other acts see nudity in art as something categorically sexual right from the start. Somewhere, somehow, something got lost in translation if those with definitive power over what we consume tells us that all nudity is sexual. The cover art of “Gjennom meg går ingen til hvile” is in no way meant to objectify the female nudity, but rather enhance the expression of the representation of humanity, vulnerability, personal freedom and honesty.
Anyways. Not being able to use social media the way intended to promote the album has of course been a challenge. I still had hopes though that the artwork would work out with the distributors of the digital release. And again, I was wrong.
The digital release will have to have an alternate artwork. Right now it is uncertain if that will be a censored version of the original, or if I just go in a completely different direction and not use cover artwork at all. The digital distributor has now, just weeks before release, labeled the artwork as “explicit, graphic or pornographic” and it is not approved for digital distribution to streaming services such as Spotify, iTunes, etc.
This rant was supposed to be a short status update. Instead I’m struggling to not compare this to how other works of art containing naked bodies are used as imagery on the same platforms without any issues. Somewhere there has been an elitist opinion to consider A as valued art and B as explicit material. As a Norwegian Black Metal band I am used to going against the grain and having to work twice as hard as fellow musicians in other genres, but I can’t help the feeling of fatigue when push comes to show.
With that being said, the release will hopefully go as planned on January 21st., but the art, product, or whatever you want to call it, available on digital platforms will not be as my original vision. For me as an artist, spending years to perfect the release, this is a moment of pure frustration. Luckily, the digital version sold on Bandcamp features the correct artwork, and you can also pre-order a limited edition CD there with the intended album art. As of now, about 30% of these have already sold out and will without a doubt become a collectors item as the true, uncensored and uncompromised version of this release.
And to end this post on a moral high note: censorship in art is wrong. Limitations, shackles and aesthetic guardianship does not belong in neither art, freedom nor life. I am obviously not able to link to the shop where you can order it here anymore, but for anyone who is looking for the album please search “Gjennom meg går ingen til hvile” by Minneriket on Bandcamp or contact me directly and I will provide you with a link. And feel free to share this post.