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Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

Naked portrait at Lismore opening offends Facebook

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The 'offensive' picture, featuring artist Deborah Kelly and her subject Simone O'Brien. (supplied)
The ‘offensive’ picture, featuring artist Deborah Kelly and her subject Simone O’Brien. (supplied)

Update: Tuesday – As a result of publishing this story and linking it to Facebook, one Echo drudge’s Facebook page has now also been suspended.

Lismore’s mayor Jenny Dowell was told her Facebook account would be shut down after posting an image featuring a survivor of bowel cancer.

The photo of artist Deborah Kelly and her subject Simone O’Brien standing in front of Deborah’s work, was taken at the opening of an exhibition at the Lismore Gallery.

The exhibition, called No Human Being Is Illegal (in all our glory), is comprised of 20 life-sized collaborative collage portraits.

It was originally commissioned for the 19th Biennale of Sydney.

But after loading up the picture to her Facebook site, Cr Dowell received a message that it been reported as offensive.

Cr Dowell told Echonetdaily that she was shocked at the reaction to the photo.

‘I was shocked that it was first of all reported and shocked that the review found that it offended their standards,’ she said.

‘They asked me to remove it or they would close my account.

I believe it was a tasteful photograph that told a story and there are many more things that are on Facebook that contravene standards.

Cr Dowell pointed out that the original art works were commissioned for the Biennale in Sydney in 2014.

They will remain on display at the Lismore gallery until 2 April.

Cr Dowell said the complaint about the photograph would have been made by one of her Facebook friends, as she operated a closed group.

‘My message is that if you see something you don’t like, press hide. Or if you really are offended by something I have posted, unfriend me,’ she said.

The photo has since been shared widely by Cr Dowell’s friends on Facebook, with some also having their pages suspended.

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  1. Simone you are a legend – love the portrait and looking forward to visiting the gallery to see the work
    We love you Simone – hope to see you at the next Concert from all your fans at Alstonville Dance Studio

  2. What a pathetic response by Facebook and also by the “friend” of Cr. Dowell who made the complaint. There is so much disgusting and puerile drivel posted daily on Facebook that it’s almost laughable that they would consider this arresting and inspiring image “offensive”. I hope this so-called friend takes up Cr. Dowell’s suggestion and unfriends her – as the saying goes, with friends like these …

  3. Some people, sadly, are terrified of a truth that stares them in the face. Cancer is rife; we can’t ignore it by sticking our head in the sand, nor by censoring images that disturb us personally.

    That portrait is a powerful image of a very courageous soul.

    “Friends” clearly aren’t all they make themselves out to be. How sad.

    Cheers to Jenny, Deborah, and especially Simone. “Friend” might serve a higher purpose by thinking before posting.

  4. Facebook has become very censorious, arbitrarily deciding which pics are ‘offensive’ to some faceless individual who defines the term idiosyncratically.
    They even sneak into people’s private and secret groups to pursue their puritanical standards. I know this from my own experience, several times in fact.

  5. i have put naked artwork on facebook and there have been issues with facebook , but i understand there has to be limits … otherwise it would be full of pornography … so , suck it up , and abide by the rules … you , after all , are an authority figure and should understand , i adore nudity and the human form , but rules is rules , so they say … doc !!! cheers and beers …. rockin’ the b-bar …. jim .

  6. But, according to FB constantly posting comments that incite hatred & extermination of other human beings on religious, cultural & racial grounds, is not offensive.

  7. What a disgusting human being that would portray friendship and be a part of a closed group with Jenny and betray her in this manner …its beyond explanation and really only indicates the twisted mind of such an individual….who ever you are you are a JUDAS


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