Remembering Ren Hang

Monday, February 27, 2017

all photos from

The visionary Chinese photographer Ren Hang passed earlier this week at just 29 years old, suddenly and heartbreakingly leaving the world with one less truly singular talent. As friends shared posts and articles, I realized how his work has touched each one of us in unique and personal ways. I asked several friends- themselves photographers, artists, writers, LGBTQ advocates, to reflect upon the influence and inspiration Ren Hang provided, and these are the thoughts they shared with me. 

Given a time when open sexuality is taboo in present-day China, Ren Hang's photographs were subversive portrayals of queerness. I'm very moved and saddened by his death. He had a very unique and sometimes comical vision, his art was very touching and personal. 

Ian @youngtilapia
I was flipping through his book at Skylight yesterday. Quickly turning the pages because I found them more shocking than Terry Richardson's work. Shocking because one spread would be a beautiful image of a person, and the next spread is that same person in an sexually aggressive situation. It's very inspiring to me because he works with simple elements, i.e the nude with a single prop, like an octopus or cherries and lets his creativity run wild. His work is instantly recognizable, which is the mark of a great artist. 

Rachel @niwa_davis:
I remember seeing Ren Hang's work and immediately having this strong magnetism to it. Hang's poetic compositions and languid forms brought recollections of deep longing and a lasting reservoir of despair. As a mixed Asian American woman these photos created a weight of understanding within my own depression. Where one feeling isn't purely linked to one thing, just as each of his pictures play off one another, to create an expansive, ghostly exploration into the vessels which are the bodies we occupy. 

Derek @derekmacario:
I think I first came across Ren Hang's work from Zioxla's Strange Plants II book. Hang unapologetically showed Chinese bodies how he saw them. Bare, nude, in nature/ plants, with fashion, and with animals, his subjects were personal to him. He was able to be intimate and honest with his images, presenting viewers surreal scenes, notably in his way of incorporating optical illusions. I love the series of indoor images he made titled, "My mum" and how he turned the spotlight on the figure who presumably raised him. 

Miles @milesfortune : 
Ren Hang, besides the visceral unhinged content of his photographs, was so impossibly human, a unique point in time. It's such a shock to now know he had such pain because he expressed such joy in what anyone else, especially in art would (and likely does) find, an unbearable weight of possibility of human ability. Emotions are our ultimate reality, our corporeal being comes second, but it's what we have to work with and I think the late Ren Hang truly loved that. 

Hernan Bas

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stuffed, Hernan Bas

"For these Dark Romantics, the natural world is full of shadows, decay, mystery, ghosts and death... landscapes full of the fantastical somehow borne of the banal. Darkness and light, the known and unknown, are all forces that coexist in Bas's works, creating otherworldly, rich images, regions defined by the outer reaches of imagination, and a nature rendered both familiar and strange."  -Victoria Miro gallery 

His paintings feel like the fragrance of a sin, a quiet vermillion nocturne luring you deep into a jungle, lush and exploding with darker passions and unknown maladies, asking your senses to tingle and vibrate with life's vividness.  In this world, hedonism is a free soaring bird. 

If colors could describe the complexity of emotions, his pallet is a paradise of passion, angst, power, and vulnerability, a kind of trapped and brooding energy with tinges of youthful frivolity and wit.  The nuances of youth- its fleeting experiences, the entrapment, the desire, the hunger of curiosity that we suffer through but maybe hope we never lose, and the literature, history, poetry that help guide us towards our future- for me, his canvas shows all this & more. 

There's a severe lack of beauty in the world right now, and cynicism isn't the cure. Escaping into fantasy and imagination isn't the easy way out if it reflects truths of reality is it? Art that understands the insides you can't articulated, some tumultuous flux of emotion and brings it to life. 

A couple outtakes from my recent shoot based on the paintings of Hernan Bas: 

Chayse, Coney Island ii.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

We met in Bushwick then took the J and the Q to Coney Island with
several bags of clothes between us, one pink umbrella in a ceaseless downpour of rain I don't 
remember what exactly we talked about but we laughed a lot and got very wet

 We made plans to meet at a dim sum night club in Chinatown later that night and in Tokyo the next year


Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Hey Hey I've got a 20 pound ball 
Hanging by a chain around my neck 
I've got to get away 
Run before I become a wreck 

I've got to break these chains 
Before I go insane 
I've got to get up and go 
Go any place I don't know 

I'm gonna leave behind 
All the twisted minds 
And all who sneer at friends of mine 
And frown at our good times 

I'm gonna breakaway 
From all the chains that bind 
And every day I'll wear what I want 
And I'll do what suits me fine 

Breakaway, breakaway

from every day"

Toni Basil by Bruce Connor 
16mm film/ 1966

Glass/ petals

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Gold mirror. dust. a piece of glass. rosebuds. 
Dead petals & an undying crevice in chest turned photo set- 
white flash at night/ black in 11am light. 

Chayse, Coney Island

Sunday, January 1, 2017

"Initially, I was unaware that time, so boundless at first blush, was a prison."
 -Vladimir Nabokov

Starting 2017 off on two hours of sleep, and Nabokov's autobiography Speak, Memory. 
I'm reading every other sentence seven times, his writing is so beautiful. I also liked this bit from the first chapter:

"Man as a rule views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for at forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour."

forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour....
and a few memories that helped combat a restless mind & ease a melange of emotions felt at the turn of the new year:

1. Here She Comes Now, The Velvet Underground
2. Pop Crimes, Rowland S. Howard
3. Souvenirs, Devandra Banhart
4. You Stopped Making Sense, The Radio Dept

Listening to each of these songs is reliving four experiences with you, aching dazzle of ephemerality. 


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

20. November 2016
Chateau Tivoli 

Late afternoon light filtering through delicate lace, translucent like a glass winged butterfly casting veined sunspots across the room of a Victorian. In ancient Greek, butterflies were called psyche- soul, breath, and mind, in Latin, papilio/ onis, soul of the dead. The 1991 film Silence of the Lambs, influenced McQueen toward the image of butterflies or moths being encased in fabric for his collections. Nabokov's esoteric, obsessive hunt for the perfect papillon specimen; the black ones have always been my favorite. 

This week: an overwhelming dichotomy of beauty and cruelty, light and loss present in the world and all the things we left unsaid; in the end the art we escape into is only a reflection of a deeper reality, a brutal elegance.  

Moonlight Garden, NYC

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

New York City, 11. 2016

i. everything is amplified in this city.
A rush of freedom and fascination, followed by inhibition, 
an electricity charged by contradiction and though these white flowers
in a pool of black velvet could be flowers in any garden of any city, 
only they share the piercing thirst of a lost quixotic 
in the epicenter of a concrete circumference where
loneliness too, is unimaginably alive. 

Petals, a fragile handful falling between cracks, unnoticed 
by a ceaseless city and in my own heightened awareness
come alive at night, white beacons of enigma in a moonlight garden. 

ii. "An effigy of a youth that is eternal" 
-Marcel Proust on collecting photos of muse Countess Greffulhe, for A la recherch√© de temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time), as seen in "Proust's Muse" at F.I.T

iii. "untitled" -the cure 

Six for Anaise

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Model: Logan Link
Photos for Anaise F/W'16 

Always a dream working with these two.

tobacco trance

Sunday, October 2, 2016

i. the color of memory
ii. of reverie
iii. of vice

Un reverie ou un cauchemar? Lately: noticing all the inner worlds that exist in the concrete circumference of a late-night city square, two bright young things in an old-soul jazz bar on the top floor of a hidden hotel, syncopated echoes of snare that follow our cold bare legs, outline sadness with a glimmer of brass. 


"Portraits of a Lady" by T.S. Eliot

And four wax candles in the darkened room
Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead,
An atmosphere of Juliet's tomb
Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid.

And so the conversation slips
Among velleities and carefully caught regrets
Through attenuated tones of violins
Mingled with remote cornets
And begins.


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