Museum Apologises For Exhibit That Rated Female University Students ‘Prettiest To Ugliest’

by : Daniel Richardson on : 18 Jun 2021 18:54
OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT)

A Shanghai museum has apologised for an exhibit that rated female university students from ‘pretty to ugliest’.

A list rating people from ugliest to prettiest seems pretty juvenile, but OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT) in Shanghai thought it was worthy of an exhibit.


The exhibition was an endeavour of ‘artist’ Song Ta, who has made a career from controversially discussing appearances. On the back of backlash from numerous perspectives, OCAT has now apologised and taken down the installation.

OCTA (Facebook/OCT Contemporary Art Terminal - OCAT Shenzhen)Facebook/OCT Contemporary Art Terminal - OCAT Shenzhen

The work had been completed in 2013 and was called ‘Uglier and Uglier’. The installation assorted images and videos of women at a university campus and ranked them in perceived attractiveness. This may seem offensive enough, but the women in the exhibition had not been asked for permission to use their image.

As per the South China Morning Post, in response to the ranking of the unknowing women, OCAT said in 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.

As a museum that supports diversity, we will take this as a warning, improve our services and treat everyone with empathy.

Many will wonder how the copyright infringement and offensive nature of the work were not immediately evident to the museum.

OCAT (Facebook / OCT Contemporary Art Terminal - OCAT Shenzhen)Facebook/OCT Contemporary Art Terminal - OCAT Shenzhen

The apology was met with criticism from Weibo users. One person noted, ‘This artwork is not only insulting, but infringes on individuals’ portrait rights, and these women didn’t even know they were being filmed.’ Another person noted, ‘Artworks need to have good merits. I cannot call Song an artist, or even a human being.’


Song has responded to critics in the past by saying:

I objectify you in an honest way, that’s a type of respect. I will not randomly rank you first place, that’s disrespect, that’s toying you with clever words.

However, assigning a number to someone, whether it’s reflective of a true feeling or not, is not an example of ‘clever words.’

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Daniel Richardson

After graduating from university, Dan went on to work with a variety of tech startups and media outlets. These included the likes of The Hook, WhatCulture and Game Rant. Eventually, Dan found a home for his journalism at UNILAD.

Topics: News, China, Now


South China Morning Post
  1. South China Morning Post

    Shanghai museum apologises for artwork rating female Chinese university students from ‘prettiest to ugliest’