2017 In Review: RIP, Ren Hang
When we look back on 2017, an early moment of the year shocked and saddened us when we lost one of the great and provocative photographers of our time, Ren Hang. We had covered Ren's work in the magazine prior to this, but were constantly following the work and wanted to champion the young photographers work for years to come. As we look back on 2017, this was a major loss for the contemporary art world. This article was originally published on February 24, 2017.
We are extremely saddened to hear that Chinese photographer Ren Hang passed away this week. A poet as well as a photographer, Ren Hang was born in Jilin province in 1987 and was most well known for his striking and honest portrayal of Chinese youth and the controversy surrounding his work.
Below is an excerpt from a piece on Ren Hang in the January 2016 issue of Juxtapoz Magazine. See more of his work and poetry here.
"Just being a controversial artist living in the modern 'Great Firewall' of China is, in itself, a brave and an awesome act of radicalism. The information prison that China has become is notorious for placing dissenting writers, bloggers, human rights lawyers and provocative artists, like Ai Weiwei, into real prison or undisclosed, isolated locations.
Ren Hang has the balls, and photographs a large number of them, along with boobs, dicks, pussies, buttholes, and every other inch of the naked human body in his seductive, risqué, flesh-and-flash-filled images. He’s been boldly doing so for many years and, unsurprisingly, has encountered a variety of roadblocks.
Yes, his work was literally spat upon in a gallery, and he has been arrested for shooting photos in public and forbidden from exhibiting his work in his country of birth. Despite such targeted challenges, Hang expresses a deep connection and love for his country, and vows to continue his photographic endeavors. He’s also made it clear that his work has nothing to do with politics and that China has had little influence on what he creates. His photographs are simply what you see, and new eyes will continue to widen when exposed to Hang’s expanding international calendar of exhibitions." —Austin McManus