World Chambers

A Forum for the Arts of Contemporary Chinese Women

Cui Xiuwen’s “Ladies Room”

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Cui Xiuwen, whose daring documentary Ladies Room firmly established her position as one of China’s better known female artists, is often portrayed as a feminist artist. In 2000, Cui hid camcorder inside the ladies’ room of a posh Beijing hotel. The image focused on a limited area of mirror in front of which young women are seen stopping. They adjust their bras, fix their make-up, emotionlessly readying themselves for their evening. “Although some art critics have praise Ladies Room as a social critique of commercial sex in today’s China, Cui Xiuwen’s interest lies in representing a social space which is both public and secret, and which belongs to women alone” (Grosenick & Schubbe, 2007, 75).

Her work is strongly autobiographical, evoking not only memory, but also her own “hopes, dreams, and fears” (Ibid, 78). She is interested in the relationship between outer society and women’s interiority: that is the relationship between public spaces and private female behavior, puberty and the “sociality of sexual relationships,” (Ibid) and the simultaneously empowering and domineering role of the state.

Stills of video installation from Grosenick & Schubbe, 2007.


Written by Andrea Descoteaux Hugg

May 11, 2009 at 5:48 PM

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