Ren Hang was born in 1987 and took his own life in 2017, at 29. He didn’t set out to be a photographer. He was studying advertising, which bored him, so with a simple Minolta camera he began photographing his friends, who were bored too. Young, slim, and naked —“Nudes are there since always,” Ren explained. “We were born nude”—they posed as he told them to, in acrobatic configurations that revel in the curves and hollows of the human body, especially at the sites of sexuality—crotch, mouth, buttocks, breasts. It’s erotic play as poetry: witty, surreal, sometimes silly, and surprisingly tender. Ren’s vision of an unashamed Eden, complete with apples, snakes, peacocks, and pigeons, was completely his own. Depression, however, owned him—and defeated him. This retrospective includes over 80 photographs, videos, books, and magazines. —L.J.
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