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August 8, 2014

Chinese Art Stripped Bare

Ren Hang, the Beijing Photographer Shooting Down Taboo

“I’d love to have sex with all the models that I’ve shot—the urge to shoot nudity probably originates from my own impulses,” says prolific Chinese photographic artist Ren Hang, whose entwined and contorted sculptural compositions are often derided as obscene in his own country. “Most of the subjects are friends of mine,” the Beijing-based Changchun native adds. “I just want to organize parties, not tell a story: everything you see in the pictures you can find in real life.” Today’s series of portraits are featured in his alluring, disinhibited first solo exhibition Physical Borderline at Beijing’s Three Shadows +3 Gallery. Hang’s seemingly nihilistic exploration captured over the past six years—and featured in Purple magazine and Rencontres d'Arles Photography Festival in France—examines the confines of our bodies, or in his own words, “the lack thereof.” The artist’s courageous pursuit has not gone unnoticed in the West, but his unwavering passion for unrestrained nudity is still a taboo subject in China. “Being routinely banned here has made me feel numb towards any change,” says Hang of the exhibition’s unapologetic attempt to penetrate the uptight censorship culture of his home country.

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Spotlight

Wes Lang: American Odyssey

Looking Back at the Work of Brooklyn's Master Draftsman Ahead of a Retrospective Show

Rough and ready iconography including skulls, flags and motorcycle culture meets classical pencil drawings of flowers and pinup girls in this series of works by Wes Lang. The New Jersey-born, Brooklyn-based creative has collected his 10-year oeuvre in a new monograph, Wes Lang, published by Picturebox Books. Featuring such references as  Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Grim Reaper, the book provides a fittingly disparate portrait of America. Through his decade-long career, Lang has taken up residency at LA’s storied Chateau Marmont, and found his niche within pop and fashion with commissions from Kanye West, Playboy and Marc Jacobs. A self-described collector of “weird imagery”, Lang spent time working in a tattoo parlor after high school, and has since covered himself in dizzying renderings of American Indians, crosses and raindrops. Below, the provocateur reveals where he’s at in 2014.  

Best thing you’ve seen lately:

Wes Lang: Zappa Plays Zappa at the Roxy in LA.

Favorite new medium:
WL: 24k gold.

Whats next?
WL:
I have a big show coming up March 28 at the ARoS museum in Denmark—a survey of works from the last 10 years.

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Spotlight

Stella Schnabel Gets Down

The New York Actress Pulls Out Her Best Moves at Her Father's Studio

Stella Schnabel teases out her inner dancehall queen for photographer Rachel Chandler’s debut film. The hypnotic short was captured earlier this year in the balmy August heat during a five-hour dance-athon at Stella’s father, artist and director Julian Schnabel’s Montauk studio. “I had wanted to film her dancing for several years,” says Chandler, a contributor for Vogue.com, Purple Diary and Dazed Digital. “She would come to my nights when I was a DJ and I would just watch her.” The haunting score comes from Paris artist and agnès b. collaborator Charles Derenne’s musical project, 1982. “I was asking a lot of her and her openness exceeded my expectations,” continues the filmmaker, whose intimate, on-set crew included Schnabel’s Chihuahua, Little Joe. Read on for the actress' thoughts on dance.

What type of music do you like to dance to?
Stella Schnabel: Any Aphex Twin album, Nas, Mobb Deep and of course the original New York OG Lou Reed.  

Where do the dutty vibes come from?
SS: I've been going to Jamaica since I was a kid; it’s a reliable source to get my mood in a good spot.

Favorite dancing memories?
SS: My first rave was outside of London when I was 14 with my old pal, Dan Macmillan. Since then, dancing with my girlfriends from Brooklyn at their block parties.

Who is your dream dance partner?
SS:
Bez! And Nancy Sinatra, Tina Turner, James Brown, Chris Walken, Yolandi Visser.

What do you do to get in the mood to dance?
SS:
There is never a moment I don’t want to.

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