27/10/2017 — 07/01/2018
The photographs of Chinese artist Ren Hang (1987-2017) thrive on their unbashful and provocative visual appeal. The images communicate through poetic, political, as well as humorous imagery. To this date, the artist’s polarizing photographs were only scarcely presented in Germany’s museums. The MdbK is now providing an all-encompassing insight into Ren Hang’s oeuvre, the first global exhibition of this sort ever since the artist’s suicide this year.
Devotee of analog photography, Ren captures with his straightforward tool stories of vulnerability, yearning, fear and loneliness, giving an impression of China’s younger generation.
The photographer invariably depicts young women and men, often models from his own circle of friends. His work bears the mark of explicit but always elegant eroticism. Through nude poses, acrobatic postures, and immediate eye contact with the camera’s lens, the photographs speak directly to us as if to say: We are present. We are confident. We will not be oppressed. These individuals represent the stalking rebellion of the young Chinese generations against the obsolete norms and morals of their parental generations. It is a profoundly aesthetic rebellion of exposed bodies, the flexibility and creative shapes of which seem to approximate abstract sculptures that do not allow a libidinous regard. The models are anonymous, the pictures without title and date. Every photograph insists on omnipresence.
Apart from Ren Hang’s affiliation with analog photography, he was also a skilful ‘digital native’ who knew how to reach out to the public through social media. Uploading his art on websites and networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Flickr, he drew attention towards his photographs and found hundreds of thousands of followers. This was much to the dissatisfaction of Chinese government censors, which resulted in a ban on Ren’s exhibitions within China, as well as the deactivation of his social media accounts and several detentions.
In cooperation with Ostlicht, Vienna