Getting Close to Ren Hang
Ren Hang, who we sadly lost in 2017, didn't have a lot to say about himself. In the fine art environment, where emphasizing one’s own importance (or having representation to do so, while you maintain the air of expensive mystery) is the norm, this resistance to pretense could be considered a form of madness. But this didn't stopped the thirty-year-old photographer, who gained international recognition by aiming his camera up the skirt of Chinese culture, and deeper, into its heart. This video by The Frei Group from 2013 offers a peek into the world of the photographer just as word of his talent began to echo across the globe.
Hang's aesthetic varied, but sexuality, freedom, intimacy, China, and a certain joie de vivre are themes that surface throughout all of his work. There are moody, apocalyptic images of the city where he lives and works, with mysterious girls and boys looking out of dirty windows, clinging to each other, their vulnerable bodies arranged amidst towering cement and steel. There are lush shots of naked people romping amidst countryside greenery, strewed in cabbage patches, posed on mountaintops. And in the years before his death, there was more and more extra-raw nudity, kaleidoscopic configurations of human flesh, props ranging from comical fruit and children's toys to makeshift fetish objects, bodily fluids and live animals – all in tense, flash-lit, dead-pan compositions that make the audience into voyeurs, whether we like it or not.
Ren Hang was featured in the January 2016 issue of Juxtapoz Magazine.