The controversial photographer captures his friends in the midst of the city’s winter – and signals a new direction for his work
A fascination with using nature as a backdrop to the naked form has led Ren Hang to become one of the most renowned photographers of his generation. Speaking with us earlier this year he explained, simply, “It’s more natural if they’re not wearing clothes.” Taking off one's clothes seems simple enough but it's Hang's approach that sets him aside – a flare between a girl's legs, a yellow python wrapped around a couple. Stepping outside the boundaries of his home country – where Hang is often in trouble with Chinese authorities given his penchant for the unclothed – the photographer shot his latest book NEW LOVE in New York City earlier this year.
However the opportunity to shoot away from his home turf did little to quell the anxieties he’s so used to working with. “I feel like there is no difference in China," he says. "When I was taking pictures in the park in the US I was still worried about someone going to call the police.” Although it's not all about the nude this time, NEW LOVE is a playful, exploratory and diaristic snapshot into the trip that sees the photographer's friends hanging out in trees and parks, limbs tangled in leaves and ladders, yet also captured huddled inside warm coats and wrapped in scarves, walking amongst the city's cafes and streets as they brave the New York winter – perhaps even signalling a less nude, new era for the controversial photographer.
NEW LOVE, published by Session Press and exclusively distributed by Dashwood, will be released on 19 June at the opening of Hang's latest exhibition in Tokyo, running until 25 July at matchbaco gallery