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Use Ai Weiwei’s middle finger to give the bird anywhere on the planet

The Chinese artist is famous for flipping off historic landmarks

LiFTED | Marcus Aurelius | 20 Mar 2023

From 1995 to 2003, Ai Weiwei, one of China’s most prestigious and highly controversial artists, took pictures of his middle finger at various locations around the globe. Called a Study of Perspective, Ai Weiwei used these snapshots as a concise way to show his opposition to the ruling classes.

Twenty years later, an online project called Avante Arte lets anyone with a computer use Ai Weiwei’s finger to give the bird to any location on Google Maps. Don’t like Trump’s politics? Point a finger at Mar-a-Lago. Angry at the neighbors for their never-ending construction? Put their address into the website and give their place the finger.

While we’re not sure that middle-fingering everyone is what Google had in mind when it set out to map the world, the generator is good for a moment of reflection on the perspective of power. Ai Weiwei said 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.”

Check out Ai Weiwei and Avante Art’s Middle Finger project here.