Shanghai gallery pulls up controversial video ranking women from ‘most beautiful to ugliest’

written by Megan C. Hills, CNNZixu Wang, CNN

A Shanghai gallery has apologized for displaying a seven-hour video in which an artist filmed passing women before giving them a score and ordering them “from prettiest to ugliest”.

In Statement Published on Friday, the non-profit art gallery OCAT Shanghai apologized to any visitors who were “disturbed, hurt and uncomfortable” with the work, saying there had been “a lapse in due diligence”.

In the controversial video, titled “Uglier and Uglier”, artist Song Ta filmed and ranks college students at his alma mater based on their appearance. Originally produced in 2012, the work’s Chinese title literally translates as “school flower”, which is used to describe beautiful female university students.

The video was exhibited from April as part of a group exhibition titled “The Circular Impact: Video Art 21”. The show has since been closed to the public, with OCAT Shanghai confirming that the work has been withdrawn.

In an exhibition program, the artist recommended that visitors arrive at the gallery early, due to the fact that his video begins with the people he considered most attractive.

“Within this (seven-hour-plus) video you’ll see him show off from the prettiest to the ugliest,” Song is quoted as saying. “So if you want to see Campus Queen, you have to go to the museum as soon as possible. Otherwise, when dusk falls, it will become a living hell at this place.”

Neither Song nor her gallery representatives responded to CNN’s request for comment.

Outrage on Chinese social media escalated after OCAT Shanghai’s decision to discontinue work. A hashtag about the video had been viewed 95 million times on the microblogging platform Weibo at the time of publication. One user called on the show’s curator to resign, saying he was “unable to differentiate between modern art and garbage,” while another said the work “disrespected women and violated their legal rights.” did.”

“Peeping (by framing it) as art and exhibition, and ignoring ethics and law,” read another user comment. “Song Ta and Ocat are both garbage.”

in 2019 interview With the Chinese media outlet BIE, formally known as Vice China, Song compared his work to a street style photography shoot. He said that he had asked a female assistant to help with filming, to make it “less scary”, although in the above exhibition brochure he is quoted as saying that he “randomly records passing girls”. Made the video.”

CNN was unable to confirm whether any of the women featured in the video had consented to be filmed. OCAT Shanghai’s apology said the work was “suspected of infringement and other issues.”

The statement continued, “OCAT Shanghai will conduct self-reflection, self-examination and reflection on the public issues and societal concerns caused by this incident.” “As an art gallery that supports a diversity of art concepts, we will take this as a lesson, and continually improve ourselves, while treating everyone with empathy.”

In his BIE interview, Song stated that he funded “Uglier & Uglier” with an arts grant, which paid for three assistants. He divided women into “three big folders: beauty, medium, ugly”, which were then subdivided and ranked.

In 2013, “Uglier and Uglier” was exhibited at the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Song later gave a speech at the institution, which described His works are “explicitly humorous” and “often questioning established social codes of conduct”. UCCA did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

In 2014, Song reportedly also staged a live version of “Uglier and Uglier”, the name translated as “One Is Versace Than Another”, where he lined up 44 women in order of their attractiveness. .

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