IT’S HARD to keep track of the extent of double standards emanating from all quarters over the confiscation of part of a photo exhibition by Greek trans and gay activist Paola Revenioti at the old Nicosia municipal market.
The exhibition, named ‘Correction’, featured photographs of males – some naked – taken by Revenioti during the 1980s and ‘90s.
According to gay rights group Accept-LGBT Cyprus, all reasonable measures were taken to avoid disrupting the market during working hours, or offending the public by covering the photos. But it seems all did not go to plan and at least one of the pictures briefly lost its cover. Police wasted no time after receiving complaints, and went in that same afternoon.
They did not need to be so heavy handed as to confiscate the photos and declare they would use them as evidence in the prosecution of Accept-LGBT’s Costas Gavrielides, whom they charged.
They could have simply had a quiet word either with him or with the Nicosia municipality to move the technically-illegal photos out of sight altogether until evening. Considering every single kiosk on the island openly sells magazines with naked women, police need to rethink their attitude towards the double standards at play here.
Gavrielides could have tempered his outburst when he said: “The confiscation opposes every form of artistic expression that does not comply with the old-fashioned ideas by the police and the state as to what is art.”
Who decides what is art, the artist or the audience? And if only half of an audience thinks something is art, doesn’t that mean it’s not art to the other half? When it comes to art, there is a tendency for those who are into it to dismiss everyone else’s opinions.
Choosing to see an exhibition with young naked men is of course the prerogative of those who view it as art. But given the content, and even the slimmest chance that something could go wrong, some thought should have gone into holding it at a private venue from the beginning.
At the same time, the internet ‘justice warriors’ who have been criticising police for confiscating the pictures of the naked men are the same people who would criticise them for not confiscating photos of naked women because in their view objectifying women as sex symbols is bad and they simply must be victims of exploitation. Shouldn’t the same standards apply to photos of naked men? Are they not being objectified too?
The general public also need to accept that not all art consists of rainbows and unicorns and that paintings of naked women have been on public display since the dawn of time as have some very famous statues of naked men.
This was a case of bad judgment on the part of Accept-LGBT, the Nicosia municipality – which has remained largely silent – and the police who should have used a bit more common sense, ensuring the entire fuss could have been avoided.