Purple Magazine
— S/S 2017 issue 27

Make Love

shot by REN HANG

The Chinese photographer and poet Ren Hang, born in 1987, took up photography because he didn’t like studying marketing at university. He became a sensation once he started publishing his pictures online, circa 2008. He’s part of the generation from one-child Chinese families; his photography has come to represent the kind of freedom — personal, social, and sexual — young people of his ilk want, but which isn’t easy to get from the control society. Hang photographs friends and people who contact him, but with whom he gets along. He’s an improviser of situations; his specialty is to photograph both male and female subjects naked, in poses that he finds more fun than erotic, but which have a strong sexual content, certainly to Chinese eyes. He shoots with film rather than digitally, uses simple props, and sets up situations and poses that recall both comedy and contemporary dance — in one shooting, he set two live doves on the heads of a naked couple, then on their naked upturned butts. The frank nudity runs hard against typical Chinese mores. The police have shut down his very brief exhibitions, but their growing frequency and the many limited-edition books he has published have fueled his reputation in and out of China, especially in the West, where he has been exhibiting since 2013. He doesn’t call himself an artist, at least where he comes from. Maybe that’s because he doesn’t feel the need, and maybe because he’s also a poet — awaiting translation.

We asked him to do a shoot using the sneakers that Purple designed with Santoni, which have the words “Make” and “Love” on the two tongues of each pair — implying, of course, “Not War.” As you might guess.

Zhang Minglei at LONGTENG MODELS and Guo Siqi, models — Sui Jun, production

 

[Table of contents]

S/S 2017 issue 27

Subscribe to our newsletter