Ai Weiwei, who has a penchant for sticking out appendages and pointing them at things, does it again with a new photo of himself holding up his leg like a rifle and pointing it. Since its posting on June 11, his Instagram account has been taken over by countless people mimicking the pose in different ways. A meme is born.
The pose is inspired by dancers in the Cultural Revolution-era ballet The Red Detachment of Women (红色娘子军 / 紅色娘子軍). Someone from Ai Weiwei’s studio explains “A colleague saw a post of the Chinese dancers then took a photo. The rest of us started doing our own versions.”
Though offering a meaning behind the photo by captioning one of the original photos “Beijing anti-terrorism series” and saying in an interview, “People from all over the world have been experiencing panic because of terrorist attacks such as 9-11 and problems such as the existence of weapons” and “Power is being overused in the name of counterterrorism”, Ai cautioned against looking too much into photo. At once acknowledging the meme’s virality while not being responsible for content, he says, “The Internet is flowing. You come up with something basic, and everybody will find it easy to express themselves based on that.”
Here are a few images from his Instagram feed:
Images: Ai Weiwei Instagram