A month ago Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei — jailed for "economic crimes" — was released on bail under the conditions that he pay back his alleged unpaid taxes and, more importantly, maintain media silence, including through Twitter for "one year, at least."
But as of Monday, Ai suddenly appeared on Google+, Google's new social networking site. If the page is genuinely Ai's, this could be a test of his boundaries. Ai's decision would be made even more provocative when the history between Google and China is taken into consideration.
At first glance, the page attributed to Ai seems innocuous enough. The profile picture is an old snapshot of a little boy and the account has only two posts so far. According to translations from Shanghaiist, the first post reads simply "来了，问候" ("Greetings, I'm here") and the second reading "有生命体征" ("there are signs of life") with a candid photo of Ai taken by himself attached, which seems to verify the account as authentic.
But beyond the first two relatively banal posts, Ai's trademark cage-rattling persona begins to show. The bio information takes cheeky jabs at the Chinese government, with Ai calling himself a “suspected pornography enthusiast and tax evader," two of the charges the police laid against him.
The page even has a public photo album entitled "April 3, 2011 Beijing City Police Department Chaoyang District Bureau List of Confiscated Articles," a ten-page list of items taken by Chinese authorities in raids of Ai's studio.
Whether this is going to cause a new political row between Ai and the Chinese government remains to be seen, but eyes are on Ai's page. As of writing more than 8,500 have added the supposed Ai page to their circles (the Google+ equivalent of Twitter following or Facebook friending) and the number continues to grow.
Interestingly enough, another one of Ai's photo albums is "艾未未09年在三影堂的展览。“艾未未：纽约1983-1993" 摄影228张图片。" [Ai Weiwei 2009 exhibition at the Three Shadows. "Ai Weiwei: New York 1983-1993" Photography 228 pictures.], the predecessor and counterpart to Asia Society Museum's Ai Weiwei New York Photographs 1983-1993 exhibit now on display. (Ai hand-picked both exhibitions from an archive of 10,000 photos.) Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983-1993 will be on display at Asia Society New York until August 14. WNYC calls it a "must-see," and it also comes highly recommended from NY1 and Bloomberg.