Controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei spent eight years taking pictures of his middle finger in a vertical pose from notable landmarks around the world.
He actively ran the project from 1995 to 2003, titled 'Study of Perspective'; Ai used the captures to show his stance against “blind collectivism” and the institutions that propagate false culture. The middle finger in action portrays the importance of our individual freedoms and beliefs, and the point he makes is that we can all flip the bird.
Fast forward to 2023, online art community Avant Arte has rebirthed Ai’s ‘Study of Perspective’ on their website for the people from around the world to contribute to the project — it is now titled ‘Middle Finger’.
Using Google Maps, Avant Arte allows anyone with a computer to flip the bird from a location of their choice and delivers Ai’s middle finger superimposed on an image of that location.
Users can also download a high-resolution cut of Ai’s famous middle finger, which you can then edit in your own creative ways.
Ai says to Hyperallergic, “We often forget that we have a middle finger. Or even if we know we have a middle finger, we misuse it. I think it's good to remember that this part of your body can point to something — an institution, or someone that resembles a power — to let them know, and let yourself know, that you exist.”
A limited edition silkscreen print of 'Middle Finger Red' will be available for just 24 hours on 30 March.
Get flipping with Ai Weiwei’s ‘Middle Finger’ here.
Arun Ramanathan is Mixmag Asia’s Director. Follow him on Instagram.