The online campaign began on Monday after a national news program covered the marble penis of David by Michelangelo, one of Italy’s most famous artists, with a mosaic.
The mosaic had been removed by the time the program was rerun the following day but not before the cover-up had caused some anger online. “The statue of David is a well-known masterpiece of art but the TV station treated it like some vulgar adult movie” was one comment on Weibo.com.
“Apparently the TV station doesn’t believe that its audience would treat art properly” was another comment on the microblog.
An online poll by t.qq.com showed only 4.2 percent of those who took part believed it was necessary to put on the mosaic while 93.3 percent said it was totally unnecessary.
The Italian Embassy in China responded to Chinese media enquiries by saying that the TV station had put the mosaic probably to protect its sensitive audience.
It is not the first time that Chinese web users have drawn clothes on famous paintings.
In February 2009, there was anger when a set of Renaissance artworks had been deleted from an album on Douban.com because of their nudity.
They immediately drew clothes on the nude figures in the paintings and put them back online.
The attitude towards the nude in china is fascinating, There appears to be a cultural shift happening as some of the younger generations gain power. The internet breaks down barriers and grants power to everyone and a voice to all. There have been nude protests led by famous Chinese artist AiWeiWei and this online protest is the latest in a culture that is trying to change their historic attitudes.
The online movement, mainly on Weibo.com, has the slogan “Dress the nude rather than add mosaic,” I think it is interesting, however, what does putting clothes on the nudes actually say? what is this movement trying to accomplish? it seems a little counter intuitive to me. are the protesters showing how less attractive the works are with clothing? or are they trying to show more creative ways of covering up than a mosaic? this seems to me to be the wrong way to go about de-sensitizing people to the nude. I understand nude protests. I understand the creativity involved in clothing these works and some of them sound interesting (I have had a very hard time tracking any down), but I don’t understand the movement itself.
For a fascinating look into the history of the attitude towards the nude in china read Fleshing out Morality; an editorial on this event by Raymond Zhou. I was particularly interested in the concept that nudty was associated with poverty and circumstance. his line “As life gets better, circumstance-induced public nudity gets rarer” has given me a great deal to think about.