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Ai Weiwei’s Assistant Investigated for Pornography, Internet Supporters Go Nude (or Nearly) in Show of Solidarity

With artist Ai Weiwei gaining ever-more international praise and growing more vocal in speaking out against the Chinese government, as well as vowing to fight against the tax evasion charges he’d been hit with, it felt like it was only a matter of time before his perpetual sparing partner hit back. Now it looks to have either just happened or is but the first step in the return volleys. The government has reportedly taken in his assistant for questioning over one of the artist’s pieces, “One Tiger, Eight Breasts,” which featured Weiwei and four women, all nude, sitting in a studio. Claiming the assistant was spreading pornography on the internet, he was ultimately released, but now Weiwei believes that this might be the next major charge leveled at him by the government (an initial charge of distribution of pornography was brought up during his mysterious, three-month detainment this summer, but the authorities seem to have wanted to focus more on the tax charges). Since his assistant’s release, in a show of solidarity, a number of fellow Chinese artists and other international supporters have uploaded nude photos of themselves individually or in groups, including one “with images of Ai’s head superimposed over their genitals and nipples.” In response to this latest effort by the government, Weiwei has said, “If they see nudity as pornography, then China is still in the Qing dynasty” and has called upon his allies to harass state-run media outlets and those paid by the government to denounce him online, by providing their phone numbers on his Twitter feed.

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