Facebook recently blocked a historic photo posted by Melbourne’s Hellenic Museum as inappropriate.
The post was meant to advertise a forthcoming exhibition of the Hellenic Museum in Melbourne in collaboration with the Benaki Museum in Athens. The event, which was endorsed by Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews after his recent visit to Athens, will be showcasing works by Nelly’s, a pioneering Greek photographer of the interwar era.
The image is an avant-garde black and white photo of Nelly’s which was taken as far back as 1928 and depicts Mona Paeva, a famous ballerina at the beginning of the 20th century, performing a dance move on the Parthenon.
The iconic art-nude photo was included in a series of artistic images that were published in the French magazine ‘Illustration de Paris’ that changed people’s overall perspectives on Neo-romanticism, art-nudes and photography in its entirety.
Despite its historic and artistic significance, the image was banned from Facebook because, as the social media platform justified its decision, it violated their guidelines related to images of sexual content. Consequently, the Hellenic Museum has had to repost the announcement which it accompanied with a more conventionally acceptable photo.
Elli Sougioultzoglou-Seraidari, best known as Nelly’s, was a revolutionary Greek photographer and feminist whose work is a hymn to freedom and movement. She was born in Aydin, Asia Minor and studied photography in Germany, where she was influenced by Franz Fiedler and Hugo Erfurt.
She was very popular with the upper urban class of her time and her works have captured the images of some of the most eminent contemporary politicians and artists.
Her return to Athens was a turning point for her artistic perspective, which became more Greek-centred and rather more conservative. Around 1924, Nelly’s set up her own photography studio in Ermou Street. From 1927 to World War II, her work focused on Greek life both in Greece and the Diaspora.
Her works depicting ancient temples and other monuments were exported to the USA and served as an advertising vehicle for the promotion of Greek tourism abroad. She was also fascinated with photographing dancers and gained a reputation as one of the most prominent dance photographers in her era.