Ren Hang’s work elicits equal and opposite reactions in me.
Few photographers exhibit such an omnivorous eye; fewer gaze upon such transgressive material.
And I fucking adore Hang’s non-prejudicial and unapologetic depictions of an exceedingly broad range of graphic human sexuality.
Unfortunately, a by-product of what I love also makes the work uncomfortable for me: confrontation.
After more than a half century of pornography rigidly marketed to exclusive sexual demographics, displaying a picture of a woman applying lipstick to her vulva next to a photo of a male-on-male anal sex is an inherently confrontational act. I don’t have a problem with that. In fact, I applaud it: FUCK goddamn centuries of hetero-normativity and straight privilege bullshit.
What bothers me is the way the majority of Hang’s work features on under-current of aggression. As if the inherent confrontation of the presentation takes second seat to something closer to rubbing the viewer’s nose in what is displayed.
Which is why this image stands out to me: the color of the grass so closely matches the color of his skin that the boys erect cock, thrust hips and come-hither eye contact with the camera evinces an almost counter-intuitive vulnerability.