This article originally appeared on Oyster Magazine.
Ren Hang’s work speaks for itself, which is a good thing because Ren is not about any of that art wank chat. His latest project, Athens Love, is a continuation of the strange and awkward — but somehow unstaged and natural — nudes that have made him so infamous.
The photo series and book were produced during an artist residency in Athens in 2015. But the choice to shoot here didn’t stem from the censorship that’s enforced in Ren’s home country of China, or anything related to Athens specifically. Like much of his work, the project is simply a document of the artist’s surroundings, and his friends, in what he considers their most natural state.
At least that’s what we discovered when we asked Ren for a bit of background on the project, and he came back with some snappy (but totally legit) replies.
Lucy Jones: Can you describe your project Athens Love in a sentence?
Ren Hang: I think there is nothing to describe.
What’s the benefit of being forced to produce art outside of your home country?
I wasn’t forced to produce art.
What drew you to Athens specifically?
I was invited to have a solo show there, so it was not a specific choice of me.
Would you call yourself an activist?
I have no idea.
When was the last time you were arrested and why?
I was chased by the police when taking nude photos in a park of Athens, but I finally ran out.
How would you define your cultural identity?
Do you think naked bodies are the most authentic or original form?
At least it appears so.
Do you think nudity is automatically sexual?
Not all nudity is sexually appealed.
What’s the biggest source of love in your life?
Painless is the source of love.
If people took one idea away from your work what would you want it to be?
I didn’t ever think about this.