Cui Xiuwen (1967-2018)
Chinese artist and photographer
Cui Xiuwen (Chinese: 崔岫闻; 1967 – 1 August 2018) was one of China’s leading contemporary artists.
Born in Harbin, Heilongjiang, Cui studied at the Fine Arts School of Northeast Normal University and eventually graduated from China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts with an MFA in 1996. Originally training as an oil painter, she became known for her conceptual photography and visual works.
According to Cui, Chinese history and culture presented a multitude of taboos and expectations surrounding women’s behaviour, which she was determined to address through her art.
However, Cui did not identify herself as a feminist artist, believing the label to be ‘limiting’. Instead, she believed art to be a way of realising ‘identity […] beyond gender’ – an expression of her individuality.
One of her most recognised series, Ladies’ Room (2000), is a videography wherein Cui hid a camcorder inside the women’s bathroom of a Beijing hotel. Depicting women preparing themselves for their evening, the work indicates Cui’s interest in the relationship between women’s interiority and wider society; the privacy of the self in the context of a public world.
By Katherine Riley