Artist Maria Forqué is Fighting Online Censorship One Nude at a Time

Banned from Instagram and criticised in the press, Spain’s Maria Forqué is fighting back by making more art confronting the taboos of sex and nudity

Maria Forqué calls herself a 21st century Venus because of her insistence on the purity and innocence of the naked body. But she’s Venus with a mouth on her. The Spanish actress, artist, model and DJ has attracted attention, controversy and a cult youth fanbase with her transgressive live performances and revealing self-portraits. In her work, Forqué oscillates between extremes, like pain, blood and bondage (one gallery appearance had her suspended from an elaborate web of robes wearing only ‘stripper’ heels) and a true belief in the power of self-care. “Art is only art if it heals,” she’s been quoted.

In spite of these good intentions, Forqué recently had her Instagram account deleted for posting what she calls “censored artistic nudes”, artworks that include the naked body, but in which nipples and genitalia have been blurred. In a widely circulated video, the polymath criticises the non-specificity of Instagram’s censorship policy. For one, men’s nipples are not disallowed, and for another, the social media platform makes no efforts to censor content that is legitimately violent or hateful. So why, she asks, “am I being treated like a criminal?” Moreover, considering Forqué has been uploading the same type of imagery since day one, she poses the question: “Why now?”

Forqué herself never intended to get caught up in this. In her work, she uses nudity to explore her relationship with her body, not just as a woman, but as an individual learning to come to terms with the world around her. She strives to show how nudity and sex should become non-issues so that there’s room to talk about what she calls “spiritual matters”. When asked how she sees her work, she says: “Pataphysics. It’s the law that regulates exception. Something that is not normal, or that doesn’t happen usually. But when it does happen you’re like: what?! That’s it. That’s what I want.” And so begins our conversation.

 

 

SLEEK: Recently, there’s been a lot of commotion about your work on the internet and in the Spanish press. In both, you’ve received different types of conservative reactions and censorious critiques. How has this impacted you?

MARIA FORQUÉ: Well, to start with the Internet… Instagram has a affected my work very simply in that my account has been deleted. But on a higher level, I believe everything that happens around you is a direct reflection of your inside. So actually, I have deleted my own account for some reason. [Laughs].

SLEEK: Hold on. Your account with 70,000 followers and 3 years of accumulated work efforts. You deleted it?

MARIA FORQUÉ: When my account [was] deleted, it [felt like it was] because, somehow, I wanted my account to be deleted and I projected that to the world. And so, the world has deleted my account! Or to give you another example, if your boyfriend leaves you, then you can be sad and say, “Oh poor me, my boyfriend left me, why?!” But I say, if your boyfriend has left you, it is because you wanted your boyfriend to leave you. You’re responsible for everything that happens to you.

SLEEK: Is it a way of emphasising your own agency and maintaining control?

MARIA FORQUÉ: Yeah, exactly. That’s why people who are very focused and healthy in their minds also have good lives. So, coming back to your question about political contexts, and going from this idea that everything is provoked by you, it doesn’t make sense to say, “In my country they don’t accept me.” Because really, I think they don’t have to accept me, and that’s why they don’t.

SLEEK: So how is your work received in your home country?

MARIA FORQUÉ: My mother, Verónica Forque, is a very famous actress in Spain. She’s a very good actress, but she’s not radical or anything. Me being naked all the time has made a lot of people and magazines talk shit about me. “Oh, the daughter of Veronica is naked and full of blood”. This kind of stuff . They don’t even try to understand what’s actually going on in my work. For this reason, the internet has been very important to me. I have made contact with a lot of artists and creatives that I love, and I have worked with them. And without this tool I don’t know if this would have been possible. So, I love the internet!

SLEEK: Yeah, it’s pretty good, right? However, some people might say that you are normatively very beautiful, and question, if you had a body that deviated somehow from the norm, whether you would make the same work, or how it would be different. What do you think? Is that a boring or irrelevant question?

MARIA FORQUÉ: No, it’s an interesting one. Because I, as a girl, have never thought that I was normatively beautiful. I thought I was just strange. From age 15 to 19 I had anorexia and I hated myself and it was horrible. Maybe society saw me as beautiful, but for me it has been a long journey to learn to accept myself. But more and more I believe that I am perfect, because that is how I have been born. Again, it’s more about what you think about yourself than how society looks at you. I have known a lot of people who are not ‘good looking’ by society’s standards, but are so confident in themselves, and see themselves as so beautiful that you also see them as fucking beautiful.

SLEEK: You must experience a lot of abuse in response to your work. But being able to express your sexuality in public is also the premise for what you do. What is your view on this?

MARIA FORQUÉ: Sex in itself, being sexual, and expressing that, is one of the most natural things in the world. Catholicism and religion and all this shit has made us think that sexuality is sinful – I think that’s horrible.

SLEEK: You seem to oscillate between innocence, beauty and this other very raunchy or sexual language, too.

MARIA FORQUÉ: At first, I worked more with painful feelings because that was how I felt. rough the years of exploring myself and learning more about the spirit and what I have to do in this life, what is human, why are we here, I’ve become more interested – I’ve acknowledged – that the point of life is healing yourself. I had a lot of issues in my mind. A lot of bad thoughts, mainly about myself, and I’ve been working with a lot of techniques, like beautification, more than techniques they are like philosophies – philosophies about the spirit, yoga and all this.

I think that society is more and more interested in purity and healing because each day [every newborn] is more conscious. We only differ from animals because we are more conscious. The evolution of the planet depends on consciousness, and that we become more and more [aware of] who we are and what we are doing, what’s good and what’s bad. I think people are already born with this awareness of wanting to know more, and that we are already more than our body, that we are really spirits, that we are much higher than what we believe.

Taken from SLEEK 57

 

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