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Ai Weiwei kickstarts a new Instagram meme

Is this the new planking? The Beijing artist wants you to pretend your leg is a gun

Ai Weiwei has started a new internet meme by posting pictures of "handheld guns" – that is, images of people holding their leg up and pretending it's a rifle. Last Wednesday, the Chinese artist posted a picture of himself in a pair of boxers and socks, holding his leg up in the following pose: 

The pose has since been taken up by users in and out of China, who are sharing their own leg-gun snaps in droves. Men, women, children, dogs, cats and Godzilla have all taken part. The images have since taken over Ai's own Instagram account, which has posted close to four hundred pictures to his 61,000 followers. 

Ai seems to have gotten the idea for this from a pose seen in a Chinese ballet called The Red Detachment of Women, which was one of the few state-sanctioned plays that monopolised the theatre during the Cultural Revolution:

As for the meaning behind it, the Guardian speculates that the meme is a sly poke at the Chinese authorities (as in literally "cocking your leg" at the regime) – especially seeing as it comes so after the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Or, it just might be Ai's answer to planking. Either way, it's pretty funny. 

The 56-year-old artist is no stranger to social media, and has often blurred the lines between his art, politics and his technology habits. In an interview with Dazed in the Summer 2014 issue, he told us: "Art is still strong, but technology is far ahead of anything... The internet is more like my eating habits. Like, you know your body can't eat that much, but sometimes you just think, 'I'll sit here and eat this until I die.'"