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Song Ta, “Uglier and Uglier” (2012)
Song Ta, “Uglier and Uglier” (2012)

Art gallery removes vile exhibit ranking 5,000 women ‘prettiest to ugliest’

The seven-hour long film has been taken off display in response to an angry backlash

A Shanghai art gallery has issued an apology for exhibiting an artwork in which over 5,000 women are ranked according to their beauty. 

Uglier and Uglier is a seven-hour long video by Song Ta, comprised of footage of young women on a university campus. The women, who may not have given their consent to be filmed, were then organised by the artist in order of “prettiest to ugliest”. The BBC reported him as saying, "If you want to see the campus queen, you have to go to the museum as early as possible. Otherwise, as dusk comes, it will become a living hell in this place.”

Originally created in 2012, the film has previously been on display at other art institutions, including the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing who, according to CNN, described the artist’s work as “unambiguously humorous”.  However, audiences have not found the controversial film at all funny, and this particular screening of Uglier and Uglier has caused widespread public outrage. Prompting close to a million declarations of protest from Chinese social media users on Weibo, the misogynistic work has now been removed from display by the OCAT gallery

Responding on Weibo, the gallery issued a statement: “After receiving criticism, we re-evaluated the content of this artwork and the artist’s explanation, we found it disrespected women, and the way it was shot has copyright infringement issues.” They continued, “We would like to express our sincere apologies to all the audience and friends who were troubled, uncomfortable and hurt due to the adverse effects caused by this work on display in our museum.”