Shanghai Pride announces suspension of operations shortly after opening exhibition

Move comes amidst increased official scrutiny of civil society in China

Qian Ruya, Fragile (2019-present). In her first interactive work, Ruya wears a mask sewn with soft mirrors and asks viewers to kiss her © The artist

Shanghai Pride announced that it would immediately suspend operations only days after opening of the 12th edition of Shanghai’s Pride Art Exhibition. Coming after a successful series of offline events in June, including parties and forums, the WeChat announcement titled “At the End of the Rainbow” skirted any mention of the cessation’s reasons, but it comes amidst increased official scrutiny of civil society in the mainland.

“Shanghai Pride regrets to announce that we are cancelling all upcoming activities and taking a break from scheduling any future events,” declared the post. “We love our community, and we are grateful for the experiences we’ve shared together. No matter what, we will always be proud—and you should be, too.”

Diana Schweinert (aka Michelle de Mâtisse), PRIDE—Then and Now © the artist

The exhibition, Perspectives: from the community and allies, featuring 17 emerging artists, will nevertheless run as originally planned until 6 September at the Bund-side clubhouse IdeaPod. Like previous editions it was selected via open call, and this year received around 100 submissions, according to Pride Art’s director Kay Tsoi. The diverse selection includes a mix of Chinese, expatriate, and overseas artists, with a breadth extending to medium. Photography and sculpture join graphic and Pop Art and, Tsoi highlights, “Yang Yiliang’s Paper Groom series incorporating Chinese folk art paper-cutting.” Along with Yang’s romantic works, other standouts include Cao Xue’s digital paintings Until We Could abstractly illustrating Richard Blanco’s poems on gay marriage and Wang Hua’s 3D-printed PVD sculptures.

Yang Yiliang's Paper Groom Series © the artist

Shanghai Pride and Pride Art have run annually since 2009. “With the Covid-19 outbreak, Shanghai Pride was one of the few Prides not cancelled in 2020—we were very glad and proud to be able to continue to celebrate Pride, despite the challenging environment,” Tsoi says. “Pride Art uses art’s universal language to embrace diversity and convey it to the wider public.”