Veil Machine Statement on OnlyFans and the One Year Anniversary of E-viction
Dearest friends, lovers, clients, and voyeurs,
One year ago today, in the middle of an apocalyptic summer of pandemic and unrest, you attended E-viction, a virtual art show by Veil Machine, funded by Eyebeam, and sponsored by Kink Out. You participated in an immersive, online arthouse wh0re gallery that emerged in a flash and disappeared at midnight after a spectacular self-destruction. E-viction conjured quite the storm.
The opening page of E-viction. Taken August 21, 2020
Almost exactly a year later, on Thursday, August 19th 2021, OnlyFans announced it will ban sexually explicit material on its platform starting this October. Like so many platforms before them, they are doing so to comply with banks and payment processors. While FOSTA/SESTA may have wreaked havoc on sex workers’ access to social media platforms and payment apps, our censorship comes primarily at the hands of a few, private, financial institutions whose sense of decorum has become the defining boundary for eroticism online.
Happy one year anniversary to our self-annihilation.
We could claim to have been prophetic, but it’s hardly prophesying when you face a constant and never ending stream of deletions, bans, and evictions from the very same places that we pioneered. OnlyFans is just the most recent notch in our bedpost — in no time it will dissipate into the collected memories of all the failed promises of lovers past. Perhaps we would be more outraged if we weren’t so jaded.
Screenshot of tweet by @Luxliv3s from Twitter, taken August 22, 2020.
E-Viction was a call to arms. It was an exercise in collective mourning and fury. It was a reckoning. We re-enacted the drama of our own erasure, but we made it explicit instead of silent.
Since then, we have partnered with Kink Out to support the development of a new social media platform for sex workers, Body of Workers -- a more tangible and lasting response to the censorship of sex workers online.
Apocalyptica performing during E-viction. Photo by Abe. Taken August 21, 2020
This movement we are a part of is so much bigger than us. We are joined by a chorus of sex working artists and researchers; canaries in the coal mine singing our warning tune so that you may finally hear us. The organization Hacking//Hustling is on the forefront of research on state surveillance and technological violence against sex workers. Tina Horn’s comic book, SFSX, uses the fantasy of a techno-dystopian future as a mirror, reflecting back the anti-sex, pro-surveilance world we are at risk of creating. Veil Machine artist Lena Chen has created OnlyBans, an “interactive game that critically examines the policing of marginalized bodies and sexual labor to empathetically teach people about digital surveillance and discrimination faced by sex workers.” Chen’s collaboration, Play4UsNow was a multiplayer online game in which sex workers leveraged, “data as a mode of domination and submission.” Fittingly, the video documentary of her performance was later censored.
Screenshot from E-viction’s self-destruction. Photo by Abe. Taken August 21, 2020
This is not an ending. This is just the beginning. If there is a way out, sex working artists will be the ones to carve it. We are building, we are imagining. We are seducing, we are destroying.
We will keep going until the internet is free from corporate control and digital gentrification.
We will keep going until FOSTA/SESTA has been repealed.
We will keep going until sex work has been decriminalized.
We will keep going until sex workers are recognized as some of the leading voices in the movement for free speech and artistic creation online.
To join the fight, support sex working artists. Read our stories. Sponsor our work. And look out for the art, the resistance, the magic we’ll be making as we continue fighting this fight.
Until the next time you lay eyes on us,