Doug Abraham AKA @bessnyc4 is a man who made his name in a digital age: his cut-and-paste collages of fashion imagery have gained him just under 35,000 admirers on Instagram and a CFDA nomination for Instagrammer of the Year (although the award was handed out to a safer bet).
This month, the Insta-recognised artist found his account mysteriously deleted with zero explanation from the social network's powers that be. "I have had accounts disabled previously and you just click on your Insta icon and it's gone," Abraham says. "When you try to sign in you get the prompt that says your account has been disabled for violating the Instagram community guidelines."
You'd think Instagram would be keen on keeping such a poster boy for their medium, but it's not the first time Instagram has zapped the original work of artists and photographers. Most famously, Petra Collins fell foul of the Instagram prudes for posting this image featuring a tiny wedge of pubic hair peeking out from her knickers.
"Instagram is very committed to policing its own guidelines but problematically it's all grey areas in terms of boundaries," explains Abraham, who just remixed a fashion editorial for Dazed. The CFDA nod may actually have backfired somewhat on him; Abraham says that Instagram began recommending @bessnyc4 as an account to follow to its huge market of followers, some of whom may not have been prepared for his more visually provocative offerings.
"Since the community of Instagram just has to press the 'report' button to get someone in insta-trouble, it's also the community policing itself which is a whole other layer in censorship," he says. "We all know there are many reasons one individual may 'report' on someone else's account that have nothing to do with the actual image content."
While Abraham's work may flirt with nudity, he's careful to exclude female nipples or any other oft-cited causes for Instagram deletion. In fact, his last few posts before his takedown – a seris of reworked Calvin Klein images – didn't feature much nudity at all.
But the Instagram gods are fickle creatures; after a week of silence, the site restored Abraham's account just as mysteriously as it suspended it. To this day, Abrahams still has no idea why his account disappeared: "Like in Monopoly," he speculates, "I think maybe I had one 'get out of jail free' card and I just cashed it in."
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot
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