Art | June 22, 2021 10:54 am

Art Gallery Pulls Video Ranking Thousands of Women From “Prettiest to Ugliest”

It took nearly a decade, but people have finally taken issue with Song Ta's "Uglier and Uglier"

Three women with faces blurred in Song Ta's "Uglier and Uglier" exhibit, now pulled
Anonymous subjects from Song Ta's "Uglier and Uglier"
Song Ta "Uglier and Uglier"

When I was in seventh grade, the boys on the JV basketball team compiled a ranking of the hottest girls in our class, complete with an overall list, as well as separate superlative rankings broken down by category: best tits, best face, best legs, etc. Today, one might write such behavior off as forgivably misguided preteen boy antics. But if you’re an adult doing the exact same thing, it’s art, apparently.

Uglier and Uglier, a seven-hour film by artist Song Ta comprised of footage he gathered, at times without consent, of young women on a college campus he ranked in order of attractiveness, has been pulled from a Shanghai art gallery following backlash from audiences who, shockingly enough, seemed to find the work problematic.

“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,” the OCAT gallery said in a statement responding to the widespread public outrage that broke out on Chinese social media platform Weibo. “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.”

Somehow it took several years before anyone found anything wrong with Song Ta’s seven-hour beauty contest, which was originally created in the early 2010s. Since then, the film has been displayed at various other art institutions without incident, including the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, where, according to CNN, it was deemed “unambiguously humorous.” Perhaps today’s audiences just aren’t getting the joke, but it seems society may have finally outgrown this particular brand of misogynistic “humor.”

The artist, for his part, doesn’t seem to plead satire. Rather, he views his subjective ranking of 5,000 women’s attractiveness as “the truth,” one he feels he has “a right to tell,” according to a 2019 interview with Vice China. Song Ta also explained the methodology by which he arrived at this indisputable truth, which involved enlisting a team of assistants to sort through subjects and determine whether their ugliness was “forgivable” or “unforgivable.”

Anyway the takeaway here is that men are still pulling the same gross bullshit they were in the JV locker room in middle school, but at least society seems to have progressed slightly since the 2010s, which were clearly a much darker time than most of us remembered.