It’s no secret that Instagram sucks. While there was such a thing collective perception Who is this fact last year, It has always been a difficult place for LGBTQ artists, let alone to share their work and build community. This central frustration drove the artist and photographer Zen Curtis To make or to create sensitive content, a print magazine dedicated to queer content creators posts removed from Instagram. collected through Submissionsthe newly released second volume expands this concept into a celebration of queer making and contemporary sexuality.
Features 63 removed images by 29 LGBTQ+ creators, including a portfolio from a China-based fetish photographer Qiumao Three-way interview Brontease PurnellAnd Dominic Taylor HildebrandAnd Joel personAnd Sensitive content size 2 is a breath of fresh air from our currently sanitized electronic experience. I spoke with Zain about how he came up with the idea sensitive content And what the future holds for being gay and online.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
VICE: It’s incredibly impressive to see the variety of projects and portfolios you’ve done over the years – everything from Photography to screen printing to rug making. How and when did you come up with the idea sensitive content?
Zane Curtis: Last spring, I posted a selfie I took with a leather gag in my mouth. I was making it my profile picture, which was soon taken down, and I got another strike on my account. I’ve had some blows from my paintings before. I think the anger kind of sparked him. I felt like I saw many of my artist friends having the same issue and complaining about how overbearing social media, particularly Instagram, is over their art.
Social media plays a huge role in how I express myself, showcase my work, and connect with people I know or want to know. It has become such a daily necessity that we don’t even discuss it because it is so naturally integrated into our lives. Especially after 2020, LGBTQ people are finding their communities online. When we find our spaces and unfold ourselves by creativity in those circles, we don’t need to be overly observant. Seeing how it has been dealt with in the past against gay artists feels like we fight it differently. I think this project can be proof that he is still very much present while celebrating stark work.
What is the process of creating the first issue? How did you find artists to participate? Did you work with a team to put together the magazine?
I just made a post asking for requests and explaining the project. By the end of the day, you’ve probably received about 100 emails with people’s photos removed. I guess when I realized it was going to be a bigger project than I had planned. There has always been a variation on sexy and quirky art in the art world that I’m tired of. Perhaps a lot of LGBTQ artists who come out across online platforms feel the same way, and haven’t had the opportunity to publish or showcase their work yet, it’s important for me to do so.
I was just working on it, putting everything together, and putting it together. It’s kind of exhausting. I guess going forward, I want to get a co-op to help me out. I’m really distracted by the way I create and do projects, and I don’t write anything and do it.
What was your reaction when you were released? Sensitive Content Size 1?
I would say well, a lot of it was just building the foundation and seeing if people are interested in that. It seems that censorship is becoming a growing problem on the Internet and how social media can control narratives and their effects on all kinds of niche communities. Knowing that these are private companies, and at the end of the day, we play by their guidelines, but it just wouldn’t be the same without creative users and people who put the time and energy into creating free content for them to make money from. Nothing brings people together like feeling angry about the same thing. I was glad I was able to turn that feeling into something tangible.
While the first volume of Sensitive Content sounds like a hugely important archive of the lives and creators of the removed posts, Sensitive content size 2 It looks at the big picture of what it means to be a gay person online, and competes more with our reliance on the Internet and social media for our sources of income, education, entertainment, and sense of community, while acknowledging the risks in doing so. What were you thinking about when you were organizing the second edition, and how do you want to evolve sensitive content From the first issue?
I knew after finishing the first one that I wanted it to evolve and embody in the traditional sense as far as magazines go. I don’t think print media is outdated. Of course, it’s hard to get up to a minute when it’s a month to print and send to everyone. It’s not really what it is, though, and it’s an archive of what it’s like to be weird and online this time. I think you can get away with a lot of print, you don’t have to rush to shame someone or use things you say in bad faith because they don’t fall into the wrong hands right away.
I think knowing there’s a time the audience can take it in and not getting a response allows you to kind of broadcast the whole thing; On the contrary, it can feel very exposed to express yourself online. I looked at the early VICE, BUTT magazine, and the magazines I grew up with, which taught me what culture was. It is very important to have such a Bible [print] Media to look at all the time and feel connected to. Social media is moving very quickly to the point where images lose their meaning. It’s exciting for seconds, and then you move on to the next. I wanted to make this project look like there might be that missing part that brings print and technology together. It exists to collect, return and show friends. Have a conversation or be shocked by it.
Issue 2 has some really cool writing! I have continued to include personal articles about specific posts that have been removed, but have expanded it to include Professional artist portfoliosAnd Triple interviewsEssays on Contemporary Sexuality and Sexual Health (with an incredibly comprehensive article on gooning). What is the process of putting together such an interesting and interesting series of writings?
In every issue, I want a balance of real issues being addressed and talked about for creative writing around any controversial special interests, I think. It gives contributors this big window that you don’t have to be overly intellectual, if you want it to be — great, if you want to evaluate which oils work best when you fist, please do so.
I think it was important for the first issues to cover censorship as an introduction to the series, but I’m ready for more. I don’t want it to appear as a victim complex as if we were just being targeted, and that’s it. I see more of the celebration and investigation of all things being gay on the internet. It was very intentional to really show that balance, that when people want to be involved in the future, they can see what the vision is and build from it.
With the second magazine I also released Amazing item. What do you see for the future of sensitive content?
I want to see it grow into something that can be its own offline community. I want to make as many cases as possible. When people stop sending, I’ll know it’s complete. I don’t see censorship or hardcore thinking going away anytime soon, so I guess we’re fine. I want to do group shows of removed work. It would be great to set up a production studio and do video interviews. I want to get grants to give to controversial artists. I have a lot of ideas for branding and content, I just want it to fund itself at the moment. I can see it growing and being a lively outlet as far as exotic media goes.
Robert Hickerson is a photographer and artist based in Brooklyn, New York. He makes scary pictures and can be found at @tweet