A Black Swan Song For Ren Hang

Filthy Dreams

(Image © Ren Hang) (Image © Ren Hang)

Ren Hang (任航), one of the most recognizable burgeoning contemporary photographers, passed away this week at just 29 years old. Known for his evocative photographs with simple compositions and singular odd elements — exotic animals, unabashed nudity, repetitious visual slips — Ren made desire and openness the forefront of his photographs. Though highly staged, performed and directed, Ren’s work is about the beauty of bodily autonomy as much as it is about the emotional burden of social conditioning. In a world where there are few words or safe spaces to speak openly about the sexual yellow body, the loss of Ren Hang shrouds the soul with gloom. It is difficult to describe the the totality of this loss without oversimplifying his complex narrative or the diversity of meanings he held for different people.

For us, he was an icon, a life-saver, a truth-teller. Ren Hang was…

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