Jubilant Ai Weiwei Fans Start Passport Selfie Trend

Ai Weiwei's supporters uploaded photos of themselves holding their passports. Photo: @cchenhao71 via Instagram

Yesterday, Ai Weiwei announced the long-awaited return of his passport with a selfie on Instagram. “Today I got my passport,” the caption read.

Ai’s passport was confiscated by Chinese authorities in 2011, and the artist was detained without trial for 81 days for alleged tax evasion. The arrest was widely interpreted as an attempt to silence the outspoken dissident and critic of the Chinese government’s stance on human rights, democracy, and free speech.

An American Ai Weiwei lookalike encouraged users to "Get your passports out and tag #aiweiwei"  Photo: @ironpumpkin via Instagram

An American Ai Weiwei lookalike encouraged users to “Get your passports out and tag #aiweiwei”
Photo: Courtesy of @ironpumpkin via Instagram.

In an email to artnet News, Dr. Stephan Urbaschek, of the artist’s Berlin gallery Neugerriemschneider, expressed his delight that “after an extensive period of waiting and uncertainty, Ai Weiwei‘s fundamental right to freedom of movement has been restored.”

The news of the return of the artist’s passport spread across the social networks rapidly, triggering a flood of congratulatory messages from supporters and well wishers. At the time of writing, Ai’s Instagram post had generated over 9,000 “likes” and 1,000 comments.

Supporters from all around the world have been uploading selfies of their passports. Photo: @eleliunuo via Instagram

Supporters from all around the world have been uploading selfies of their passports.
Photo: Courtesy of @eleliunuo via Instagram.

By Thursday morning, Ai’s photo had also sparked a new selfie trend, and users from all around the world are uploading photos of themselves holding their passports, emulating Ai’s celebratory selfie.

A German fan shows his support. Photo: @vinzenzreinecke via Instagram

A German fan shows his support.
Photo: Courtesy of @vinzenzreinecke via Instagram.

On September 19, London’s Royal Academy of Arts will host the artist’s first major solo museum show in the UK. Ai can finally attend his first exhibition opening outside of China in four years.


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