Fans strip in support of Chinese artist

Supporters of Ai — who disappeared into custody for 81 days earlier this year — this month donated nearly nine million yuan ($1.4 million) to the artist after he was handed a huge bill for alleged back taxes. Now, his fans are taking a different tack to counter a police investigation into photos of the 54-year-old in which he and a group of women pose nude, sitting on traditional wooden chairs in the middle of a bare white room.

Dozens of supporters have posted naked or part-naked photos of themselves on a blog page titled “Ai Wei Fans’ Nudity — Listen, Chinese government: Nudity is not Pornography”.

Some of them are full-frontal and revealing. Others are more discreet, with the Chinese character for “love”, pronounced the same as “Ai”, pictures of the artist or the logo of state television CCTV placed across their private parts. One man poses as sculptor Auguste Rodin’s famous “Thinker” statue, one emulates Michelangelo’s “David”, and yet another is sitting naked on a toilet, reading what looks like an iPad.

Ai, an artist of international renown whose vocal rights activism has irked the Chinese government, was taken into secret police detention in April and released in June.

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