Sunday 24 January 2021

Social media for artists: OnlyFans & boundaries of play

Hi 🎭 this is my first post :-). In this post I try to think through some of the thoughts I have been having about a project I have been working on recently

Since Sepetmber I have been running an OnlyFans acccount with my friend Jaana Kristiina Alakoski. As artists working in immaterial media (digital, text, performance, curation), OnlyFans seemed an interesting space to explore how those things operate in a different context. OnlyFans is associated with a spectrum of body-work from selling foot pictures to life drawing reference to nudes to sex work to erotic art. We both use our bodies and faces in our work and so using the platform has been a confusing but inspiring journey into understanding how and whether we should commodify our work in that context at all.

OnlyFans is fenced in by clunky architecture: you have to use it in the browser (it's not an app), content is behind a paywall or at least subscription, there is no For You/Explore Feed. You can only arrive at a user's page via another platform, it is archaic/private. OnlyFans has succeeded as a website not because it promises virality, but instead because it promises financial success and 1 on 1 connection between creators and fans. This 1 on 1 interaction is what drew us into the space initially, seeking anonymous dialogue with strangers outside of *the art world*. Our account was free for the first 3 months until we made it paid ($4.99) in December... we are still experimenting with what that means. We also (like any other service) recieve tips ($10, $20).

Some of our fans come from Instagram and tell us they have crushes on us, some of them from dating apps or Discord or wherever I posted a link. Many followers are upset that we don't share explicit straight-forward nudes. We work in a kind of old fashioned service style, generating content that has been programmed or dreamed of by our Fans. It is a unique environment for working in 1 on 1 performance and it is fun to recieve instructions, try to navigate boundaries, if there even are any. How much fans expose to us about themselves, how much we want to literally expose to them... how much we want to embark on a relationship with one another, if at all or if we stay strictly business. I am reminded of Andrea Fraser's 2003 'Untitled', not a piece I particularly like, but I am reminded of it all the same.