« Cui Xiuwen’s video Ladies (2000) document a society undergoing rapid transition. Using a hidden camera to film behind the scenes in the toilets of a glitzy Beijing ‘escort’ club, Cui confronts female sexuality in modern China. Low-fi surveillance technology records young women over the course of an evening as they come and go in front of the nightclub’s bathroom mirror. The footage is edited to create an orchestrated series of repetitive performances that gradually reveal the nature of the women’s occupation. We watch them unself consciously adjusting their bras, applying make-up and changing outfits and then, in the last moments of the video, we eavesdrop on their mobile phone negotiations with ‘clients’ and see the evening’s earnings being counted and carefully hidden. Cui reveals how the private space of the bathroom becomes simultaneously a site of economic exchange and a refuge for the women »

Tate Modern, exhibition septembre 2004

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