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BEIJING — When Ai Weiwei’s assistant, Beijing artist Zhao Zhao, was brought in for questioning recently, the supposed charges were simple: distribution of pornography. The image in question was “One Tiger, Eight Breasts,” a shot of Ai with four young women, all of them naked. I first saw the photo in August 2010, when he tweeted a link to it and said “Trusting each other fully,” though the link to the image no longer works.
The average art student can tell you these are simply artistic nudes, nothing more, but the charges seem serious. From The Guardian‘s Jonathan Watts:
He said police had questioned his cameraman Zhao Zhao on Thursday over pictures Zhao had taken of the artist. “They clearly told him this is an investigation, now, they are doing on me, on pornography,” Ai told the AFP news agency.
Netizens wouldn’t stand for this. Quickly, a meme emerged: post pictures of yourself naked in support of Ai Weiwei and Zhao Zhao. A few months back, I wrote about the Wenzhou train collision spurring off a series of satire photos I dubbed online street art. But this is online assembly. Unable to assemble in person, Chinese citizens in the mainland and abroad are using the power of the internet meme to assemble online.
On Sina Weibo and Twitter, they used the hashtags #艾裸裸 and #爱裸裸, both pronounced Ai Luo Luo. It’s a play on words with Ai Weiwei’s name and can mean something like “Love getting naked.” Predictably, the hashtag on Twitter was quickly flooded (or “polluted,” in Chinese parlance) by spam messages from the 50 Cent Party, a paid army of pro-Party internet commentators, to make it difficult to locate images.
I’ve chosen a few here, and the rest — well over a hundred — have been collected at awfannude.blogspot.com and on Wuala. Here’s the Chinese Internet showing the government that they and Ai won’t take these charges with their pants down:
And, of course, the obligatory comic art floating around Sina Weibo. Here are my favorites: