ever since the summer, the net has been flooded with parodies of psy’s viral video, gangnam style.

the other day, ai wei wei started posting some intriguing pictures on facebook: he was also re-creating the south korean hit in his studio, with his assistants. the buzz once started, the hilarious video soon followed and so did the accompanying explanation for the unexpected undertaking.

i was pleasantly surprised by wei wei’s sense of humour and relaxed attitude but not at all by his actual agenda, as his activism is never far from his art: the video is called grass-mud horse style, a direct reference to the chinese meme that relies on a pun to rebel against the state’s censorship of the internet. the animal’s name, caonima, sounds a lot like fuck your mother in chinese so it has become a mascot of resistance to online censorship as the characters used to write its name are benign and thus they escape the digital filters. click here to find more about chinese internet mythical creatures.

this was not wei wei’s first use of the concept: remember the super famous 2009 picture of him naked, jumping in mid air? well, check the picture more closely. he’s using a caonima toy to cover his modesty. the caption said a grass-mud horse covering the center but could also be interpreted as fuck your mother, communist party central committee. this is just one of the many risky middle fingers the artist showed the chinese government which most probably contributed to his arrest in 2011. 

born in a communist country myself, i know only too well about censorship and lack of freedom. and about the size of balls a person needs to speak against a tyrannic state. my country may have seemingly gotten over communism, but unfortunately i’m totally there with wei wei when he says: fuck you, motherland.

photo and video credits: ai wei wei