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The naked bodies shot by EDGE Creative Collective photographer Ren Hang are sensual and innocent all at once. Hailing from Beijing, he is known for his sexually-charged images. In this series, the backdrops oscillate from nature to metropolis. They remind us that despite our complex thoughts and societal pressures, we are ultimately animals.
Men crouch disrobed in fetal positions among forests. They lounge in trees and flash their butts like baboon monkeys. Interestingly, even when Hang swaps backdrops with China’s towering cities, the photos maintain this theme. Shooting the models in the privacy of rooftops, some bend back screaming on their knees, while others quietly stand in relief and embrace. He reveals the urge to return to this state-of-nature. Civilization has developed skyscrapers, cultures, highways all larger than life, but humans are still animals.
Nonetheless, anthropologists attribute such accomplishments to our unmatched capacity to understand the perspectives of others. This separates us from beast by granting us the ability to motivate, which then allows us to teach each other. Thus, the human race has the potential to level up from the discovery of merely one.
Simultaneously, this human power can lead to concern, even obsession, over others’ perceptions. Hang’s subjects demonstrate the drawbacks of this with visible shame. They are young and often awkward, hiding, displaying discomfort. Moreover, Hang is telling a secret love story, which he describes as particularly sensitive when young. With hormones raging, natural instinct conflicts with our unique ability by instigating fear of social judgment and rejection.