Since 1995 Ai Weiwei has raised his middle finger to bastions of power — and taken photos to prove it. Begun in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, where hundreds of democratic protestors were killed by the Chinese government in 1989, he calls the series Study of Perspective.
Weiwei has since reprised the work around the world, and in turn inspired a tide of recreations by members of the public. Beyond a surface level provocation, Study of Perspective asserts the importance of our freedom to form, hold and express individual beliefs.
“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.”
On the flipside, with the images Weiwei forewarns the perils of blind collectivism. Of a culture without questions. Of surrender to seemingly-immovable objects. From this perspective, the power of an obscene gesture is that anyone can make it. Middle Finger Ai Weiwei's outstretched arm on a flat green background, photographed from behind with middle finger raised.
We've collaborated with Weiwei to make his emblematic finger available to all — inviting any and everyone to share their own perspective on power. Navigate the map and add to the archive, or download cut outs to use as you see fit.