UCCA Beijing

UCCA x Miss Ruthless: Miss Ruthless with a Smile


Location:  Auditorium and Atrium
Language:  English with Chinese translation

The Ullens Center for Comtemporary Art (UCCA) welcomes Hera Chan and David Xu Borgonjon, curators of the summer exhibition “In Search of Miss Ruthless” at Para Site (Hong Kong), and select participating artists to present “Miss Ruthless with a Smile,” an afternoon of panel discussions, performance, screening, and Karaoke Court as part of a series of public programs held in conjunction with the main exhibition.

If you want to win a beauty pageant, you’ve got to smile as if you’ve already won. In a world where friends are available for hourly rentals, where happiness is a business model, and where means of escape are harder to find by the day, we invite you to a rewarding afternoon framed by the idea of Miss Ruthless, a fantasy figure from the future. “Miss Ruthless With A Smile” is part of the public programming of “In Search of Miss Ruthless,” an exhibition at Para Site (Hong Kong) curated by Hera Chan and David Xu Borgonjon, on view from 30 June to 10 September. Just as the pageant queen represents the social body politically, perhaps the search for a Miss Ruthless can hold space for queer life and illuminate histories of invisible labour. For this programme, select artists in the exhibition have been invited to direct discussions, performances, and screenings that dwell on affective labour and time-based economies. As Marcel Mauss writes, “every technique properly so-called has its own form. But the same is true of every attitude of the body. Each society has its own special habits.” In a feminist economy, what would change the market value of a smile?

This programme will open with a panel discussion with Hera Chan, David Xu Borgonjon, and guest curator Alvin Li called “Pageantry as Method” where moments of political contestation in beauty pageant history will be explored as strategy models for contemporary artists. Following will be a conversation hosted by artist Dachal Choi and Zian Chen from Long March Space called “Artist Talk with Dachal Choi (Find Miss Ruthless Contest for Cash Reward$).” Centered on the inhabitation of ambivalent values in unstable times, the conversation will act as the backdrop to a contest that asks audience members to root out the friend that Choi rented in the room. Following, there will be a screening of works by Ma Qiusha called “Sleeping Beauty.” In finding the parallel between the logic of childhood fairy tales and artificially produced landscapes, Ma does not expose the conceit of falsified beauty but rather intervenes to stimulate a reality beyond our own. The programme will draw to a close with “Karaoke Court,” an event where you can legally resolve your disputes through karaoke singing. At the hearing, the judge will present the facts of your case before you perform your songs. After this, the audience, who acts as the jury in your case, will vote on who wins. The jury’s decision is binding.


80RMB / Adult

60RMB / UCCA member


*Enjoy UCCA Member ticket prices with the purchase of a yearly membership card (RMB 300);

*Collect your ticket from reception 30 minutes before the event begins;

*Please no late entry;

*Seating is limited, and tickets must be collected individually;

*Please keep mobile devices on silent.

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Ticketing QR Code

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Zian Chen (Researcher, Long March Project)

Zian Chen writes exhibition-novels that introduce the subjective position of fanfiction into review writing. He was the winner of the Contemporary Art Writing and Critical Thinking Award at Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco in 2015. He currently works as a researcher for Long March Project.

Dachal Choi (Artist)

Dachal Choi is a New York based visual artist, born in Seoul, Korea. As part of the millennial generation in Korea, where youth have loose group consciousness yet still hold a strong need for public display and affirmation, her interest lies in the estrangements existing in a sense of community and personal identity. From Christmas as propaganda, to instant family, to rented friendships, her practice sews ambivalent values together to question instability and uncertainty within individuals and the societies of which they are members. Her work has been presented at Triangle Arts Association, Socrates Sculpture Park, Franklin Street Works, Postcrypt Art Gallery, Seoul Art Space Seogyo, among others. She is a recipient of Artist Community Engagement Grant from Rema Hort Mann Foundation, Individual Grant from Asian Cultural Council, George R. Bunker Award and Lipson Allen Scholarship Award. She holds a B.F.A from School of Visual Arts and an M.F.A. from Yale University.

Hera Chan (Curator)

Hera Chan works as an art organizer, researcher, and community journalist in Hong Kong. Committed to sustaining networks of solidarity through building up media infrastructures, she co-founded and is acting director of Atelier Céladon based in Montreal and speaks with diasporic peoples to socially engineer a future that is already possible. She has gathered news for the Eastern Door, the McGill Daily, and CKUT Radio. In the summer of 2017, she began her international search for Miss Ruthless. Hera was a finalist in Miss Chinese Montreal 2017.

Alvin Li (English editor, UCCA)

Alvin Li is a writer, researcher, translator, and queer activist based in Beijing, where Li is currently English editor of Ullens Center of Contemporary Art. Li recently co-curated the group exhibition, "The New Normal: Art and China in 2017," at the Center. Particularly interested in gender variance and queerness, as well as their implications for community practices and social relations, Li has been organizing queer film festivals, monthly screenings, and community-oriented events in Shanghai for three years. Li is the co-founder of an unrefined queer underground collective named CINEMQ, known for hopping around clubs in Shanghai to screen queer short films and throw badass parties. Li is the quest curator of a queer screening program for Para Site’s summer exhibition “In Search of Miss Ruthless”; titled ”Pièce Touchée”, the program will debut at Para Site on September 10th.

David Xu Borgonjon (Curator)

David Xu Borgonjon is a curator interested in economism. Curated exhibitions include "The Invisible Hand" (2017) at CUE Art Foundation and "Really, Socialism?!" (2015) at Momenta Art. He has worked on the art administrator's group Admin and the media art criticism platform SCREEN. He is currently studying Chinese literature at Columbia University and teaches curating at Rhode Island School of Design. He was formerly Curator at Eyebeam and Curatorial Fellow at Wave Hill. He was born in Beijing and works in New York.


Karaoke Court

Karaoke Court is an event where you can legally resolve your disputes through karaoke singing. You and the other party will sign an arbitration contract agreeing to this method of dispute resolution. At the hearing, the Karaoke Court judge will present the facts of your case before you perform your songs. After this the audience, who acts as the jury in your case, will vote on who wins. The jury’s decision is binding.

Email Miss Ruthless to register a dispute: miss@ruthless.international

*Karaoke Court is a work of performance art created by Jack Tan (陈捷棋), and produced by Hera Chan and David Xu Borgonjon as part of "Miss Ruthless With A Smile" at UCCA, Beijing.


15:00-15:20 Ticket pick-up at the reception desk (for UCCA members who RSVPed)

15:20-15:50 Exclusive UCCA members-only guided tour

15:30-16:00 Ticket distribution at the reception desk (for UCCA members who didn’t RSVP and non-members)

16:00-16:45 “Pageantry as Method”: Panel discussion with Hera Chan, Alvin Li, and David Xu Borgonjon

16:45-17:30 "Artist Talk with Dachal Choi (Find Miss Ruthless Contest for Cash Reward$)", Conversation with Dachal Choi and Zian Chen (Long March Space) and contest

17:30-18:15 "Sleeping Beauty": Screening of works by Ma Qiusha

18:15-19:30 "Karaoke Court": Public hearing by Jack Tan