Inside the ladies' bathroom

Cui Xiuwen (崔岫闻) is a female artist from Heilongjiang who lives in Beijing. In 2004, she spent a few nights in a the women's bathroom of a Beijing nightclub, filming women as they stood in front of the mirror, arranged their bras, hid money in their underwear, discussed their clients and boyfriends and gossiped.

Cui now has a page on Tudou, where she has uploaded the video The Ladies' Room. You can watch it below. The parts with speech have English subtitles.

Thanks to M for the link.

There are currently 17 Comments for Inside the ladies' bathroom.

Comments on Inside the ladies' bathroom

Hmmm, interesting, I suppose. But is this really art and not just an amateur softcore, voyeuristic video?

what a gross violation of privacy. ms cui should have her pants sued off.

anyone outraged by the public shaming of alleged prostitutes and their clients in shenzhen should be equally if not more indignant at this episode.

civil society in china has a long way to go.

I agree with Adam, this is pretty voyeuristic, and I'm not quite sure why its being posted here. A lot of times this site wonders why some Chinese websites put up random pictures of scantily clad women, but what makes this site any different if you're not going to engage your subjects in a more meaningful way?

Oh please, the video and sound quality are so crappy that it can hardly be called voyeurism anyway. You can't make out their faces or understand a word they say. But this is hardly "art," and I agree, there's no good reason why it should be posted here.

Civil society doesn't really exist in China, but this video has nothing to do with that.

Fellas, let's note the following:

1. The above may indeed be "amateur softcore, voyeuristic" and "a gross violation of privacy".

2. The video has been posted on Chinese video sites, and by reposting it, Danwei draws attention to a novel and interesting form of expression that is facilitated by the Internet in China.

3. Apart from the fascinating "amateur softcore, voyeuristic" aspects of the clip, it also gives a rare look into the intestines of China's emerging urban middle class - the way people in the video behave and talk, and the things they seem to be preoccupied with are very telling.

dror - you actually think that this gives a 'rare look into the intestines of China's emerging urban middle class'? A look that we could only uncover in a public bathroom? sounds a bit too much like pseud's corner to me. I'm pretty sure I can uncover similar conversations through a huge number of social situations, and none of them need to be facilitated by an invasive hidden camera.

(I should also add that the nightclub is banana and that a lot of the women there are actually working girls of one variety or another. Maybe we can now justify the tape on the grounds that is gives us a 'rare insight into the intestines of China's hard working prostitute class' or something equally silly and pretentious)

Awful violation of privacy, and indeed, "amateur softcore, voyeuristic" blogshite by a sham artist. However, it does expose the hollow society China's young, female, urban middle classes are chiseling out for themselves. I can only imagine the sophistication of the toilet-trained males are worse. 5000 years of history, and this is the state of late 2006 China, the Chinese, and Chinese art. Dear o dear. A crying, criminal shame.


I agree with you that this is a sad violation of privacy and that there is plenty to learn about China from other sources. That said, what is depicted in the video could only have been excavated from that location.

Of course I would never have produced such a video or encourage anyone else to do so. However, since it is making the rounds of China's video sites, it is definitely something Danwei readers should know about.

In addition, the 'intestines of China's hard working prostitute class' are just as telling - if not more - of the incredible change this culture is going through.

I saw the same video as part of an installation the Pompidou Centre in Paris last year.

[EDITOR'S NOTE (JG) I believe the Pompidou Centre bought the work for their permanent collection]

My initial point was that this isn’t really art; despite the Pompidou Centre's waste of money and Danwei's categorization as such. Also, in response to Dror's first comment, I certainly hope this is not what qualifies as 'novel' these days --- is there really anything new, original or unique about it --- can we please stop lowering the bar! However, I do appreciate Danwei bringing us something interesting from the Chinese Web that we may not have found otherwise. Thanks.

Well, I've got to say that some -- a lot actually -- of the girls and women in that video are fine looking! Hey, sorry, as a guy just thought I'd note that. Interesting that these Chinese girls are good looking without even knowing they're being observed -- in their most casual moments. but yes it was an invasion of their privacy... guess I need to say that too :-)

This is far from being art of any kind. Its unfortunate that Pompidou is promoting it as such. Any Chinese that comes up with an idea can sell his or her stuff in the West. Mao, Bathroom films, Crazy performances anything. The sad thing is that these people get the stage to expose their shallow works. I enjoyed the film, I was curious to look but that does not make it art

well said yaya. I wrote the same but worded it differently. I think the danwei nanny has problems with masturbation references...

Interesting to note that not one woman who came out of the stalls washed their hands.

So... This is what happens in the girl's room... Interesting...

But I assure you much much more weirder things happen in the boy's room. Ladies don't believe me come and check us out. We're practically right next door...

I hate clubs... Clubs are a nightmare... I vowed to never go back to a Beijing club. Too much of an evil alien presence. It was almost too intense. Safe to say I had to get out there fast. From there we drove to Wu Men... A much more intense experience. Try to look through Wu Men gate across the yard at Tai He Men 4 in morning. All the while with the flag guards practicing drill! Crazy!

A lot of energy in that place...

Bye bye now.

what thats not fair thats not what goes on in ever bathroom do the people know they are being video taped or not cause the need their space so how RUDE

You people come across like the guy who was making the nightly news trying to shut down porno bookstores and was revealed as a child molester - ultimate hypocrites.

This shows that China is being westernized. It ultimately reveals a lot more about the west than it does the east. In the ways we don't like to reveal, it proves that in the private areas we are more alike than different.

Media Partners
Visit these sites for the latest China news
090609guardian2.png 090609CNN3.png
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.
Danwei Archives
Danwei Feeds
Via Feedsky rsschiclet2.png (on the mainland)
or Feedburner rsschiclet.gif (blocked in China)
rsschiclet2.png rsschiclet.gif Main feed: Main posts (FB has top links)
rsschiclet2.png rsschiclet.gif Top Links: Links from the top bar
rsschiclet2.png rsschiclet.gif Danwei Jobs: Want ads
rsschiclet2.png rsschiclet.gif Danwei Digest: Updated daily, 19:30