Suicide Regarding Nudity and Art

"If Ren Hang’s artistic vision was nudity, it is important that it be viewed that way."


Ren Hang, a controversial Chinese photographer, killed himself on March 30th 2017. I analyzed his work for an assignment in my first photography class at Ohio State. I have been admiring his work ever since. His art expresses emotion and culture through nudity. Nudity is a tool used to depict extreme raw and unique feelings.

If Ren Hang’s artistic vision was nudity, it is important that it be viewed that way. I ask you to visit his Instagram page @renhangrenhang and absorb some of his work. You will also see how he was required to follow the mediums guidelines against nudity by adding black solid lines over breasts and genitals. Above, you will see his true art, which can be found, with many others, on his website. He also writes extensively on his depression and showcases his poetry.

You will find my nude photography above. I wanted to put myself in the vulnerable position of photographing nude subject as it serves as a great challenge for many artists. I enjoyed the experience and trying to get a little closer to understanding where Hang’s mind was at his whole life.

Instagram is my favorite social media; I do not agree with their creative restriction on nudity. I have felt other nude-influenced artist’s frustration with these guidelines. I believe the forced modifications Hang put in place acted as a barrier for his art to be completely accepted in this world. As an artist, how can you feel free if your art is not? His work is remarkable because it represents Chinese sexuality in an extremely censored society. This representation once led to his arrest by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Rest in Peace, Ren Hang, and may your art continue to raise emotions in generations to come.

Sara Liptow is a New Media Technology major studying Studio Art and Photography. Find more on Instagram (@Sliptoww), and view her portfolio here.