A Chinese artist has drawn flak for his recent “art piece” which is an eight-hour video footage of secretly recorded 5,000 college women. Uglier and Uglier by Song Ta was exhibited at the OCAT Shanghai and organised by Dai Zhuoqun. According to news reports, the footage ranks the women in order of their attractiveness in Song Ta’s view.
The outrageous footage was taken down and OCAT was closed indefinitely last week after Song’s work was criticised on public platforms, reports The Art Newspaper. Although the video was first put up for public viewing in 2013 at UCCA Beijing in its 2013 group show, On | Off: China’s Young Artists in Theory and Practice, it attracted sharp criticism on social media this time after a user Sanaya One drew attention to its misogynistic nature on Weibo.
On Twitter, Afra Wang, a co-host of the Mandarin-language podcast Loud Murmurs, amplified the news last week. Considering how Song Ta’s work soon grabbed the negative attention, the exhibition — The Circular Impact -was closed earlier than its schedule. The exhibition, which included 21 artists, opened on April 28 and was due to run until July 11.
Wang in her tweet posted a screengrab of Song’s work along with its description. Each college girl, who was filmed without her consent, was given a number, which was a rank she was given for her prettiness according to Song. In her tweet,Wang expressed her disgust, and called it a “disturbing dose of Chinese contemporary art.” In the following tweet, Wang called Song a “misogynous” artist who asked his viewers to reach the museum early if they wanted to see the “campus queen.” Wang said that she could not think of a more “dismissive and violent” way to objectify women.
A disturbing dose of Chinese contemporary art: Song Ta, a video artist, has a piece called "Uglier and Uglier" is in exhibition in OCAT Shanghai. This 7+ hrs long video displays secretly shot footage of college girls ranked from the "prettiest" to the "ugliest." pic.twitter.com/COtSWEF7Xa— Afra Wang (@afrazhaowang) June 17, 2021
Misogynous he is, the artist says bluntly that "to see the campus queen, you need to go to the museum early." I couldn't think of a more dismissive and violent way to objectifies women.— Afra Wang (@afrazhaowang) June 17, 2021
OCAT issued an apology on Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Weibo.The museum said that the English title of Song’s work conveys “disrespect” to women. OCAT also mentioned that the process of creating the work suggests legal infringement and as a public art venue, they should be actively reviewing and checking what they include in their exhibitions.