Ren Hang at Foam: The Must-See NSFW Exhibition

Posted on January 31st, 2017

During the Unseen Photo Fair 2016, an international curatorial committee selected Ren Hang for the Outset/Unseen Exhibition Fund. His exhibition, Naked/Nude at Foam 3H is the result.

It’s the show that we’ve all been waiting for, and finally it’s here! No more habitually clearing your browser history. ;)

Amsterdam’s liberal landscape welcomes the young, provocative photographer/poet; however, this isn’t the artist’s first introduction to the Dutch art scene. In 2013 artist/critic/curator, Ai Weiwei invited Ren Hang to participate in FUCK OFF 2, the sequel. The landmark show was comprised of 37 contemporary artists from China, united by a collective aim to address the current sociological, environmental, legal and political climate in China. The show helped to catapult Ren Hang’s career to an international level.

Audiences around the world have almost expectedly been receptive, because his archetypal, stylistic nudes harken to the likes of Goldin, Mapplethorpe, and Clarke. However it is within the looming context of conservative Chinese society - governed by moral tradition - that we see his nudes as confronting symbols of a rising, vehement youth culture. His work has been considered so tempestuous that it has preemptively excited audiences to a point that “one of [his] shows was cancelled by the Chinese government on 'suspicion of sex’”!

“My pictures’ politics have nothing to do with China. It’s Chinese politics that wants to interfere with my art.” —Ren Hang

“I don’t try to get a message across, I don’t give my works names, I don’t date them. I don’t want to instill them with any vocabulary. I don’t like to explain my photos or work as a whole”.

Though admittedly his work does not have a definable purpose, there is a directedness throughout his oeuvre. Using a traditional analog camera and the unsubtle use of flash, Ren Hang communicates a uniquely raw, stark aesthetic that batters taboos and celebrates sexuality. It is this contemporary form of poeticism in a visual context that expressed themes of identity, the body, love, loss and death are conveyed by the artist. With the help of unashamed models and aesthetic accessories, Ren Hang transports us to a realm of sophisticated surrealism. His work implores us to think of comfort zones as something abandoned; test limits to experience.

Ren Hang at Foam matters, because so long as art has the found incentive to test and prod conservative boundaries, it is fundamental to have institutions, such as Foam that provide an arena for artists’ work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credits

1. http://www.joyce.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/000008------------.jpg

2. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c0/c6/d8/c0c6d8b89f946dbbcf48268563096862.jpg

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