Ren Hang spearheaded a new movement in Chinese photography. His natural, raw and unapologetically free approach was seen by Westerners as a rebellious act against the country’s conservative government, using sex and nudity to defy taboos surrounding naked bodies, sexuality and identity. But more than an anti-establishment artist, Ren Hang was part of a new generation of creatives who’re willing to show the ins and outs of their lives. To celebrate this revival of Chinese photography, 193 gallery in Paris is hosting the exhibition Manifest of Freedom, featuring artists like Lao Xie Xie, Li Hui and METAL 39 cover star John Yuyi (who’s actually Taiwanese) until the 18th of October.
Documenting our everyday lives and posting about them on social media is something that comes as natural as breathing or drinking water to many of us. For the youth around the world, be it China, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, UK, Italy or Canada, having profiles on Instagram, TikTok, WeChat or Weibo help us connect with our peers, express ourselves and see what’s going on in other people’s lives. But it hasn’t always been like this. For fifty years, in China, photography was a tool used by the government to spread political propaganda, and only party members were allowed to own a camera.

But growing up in an increasingly interconnected world where taboos and censorship are weaker, and where every smartphone has a high-resolution camera, a new generation of Chinese photographers is finding its way to work freely and deal with topics such as gender expression, partying, nudity, sexuality and friendship, thus defying strict, restrictive social conventions that have oppressed many before.

Artists like the late Ren Hang, John Yuyi, Li Hui, Lao Xie Xie, Ka Xiaoxi, YuYang Liu and Su Yang, whose works currently hang at 193 Gallery, are paving the way for future generations, who don’t believe in creative restrictions or limitations.
The exhibition Manifest of Freedom is on view until the 18th of October at 193 gallery, 7 rue Filles du Calvaire, Paris.
John Yuyi.jpg
John Yuyi
Ka Xioxi2.jpg
Ka Xiaoxi
Lao Xie Xie2.jpg
Lao Xie Xie
Ren Hang   Courtesy of the Artist  Galerie Paris Beijing and 193 Gallery.jpg
Ren Hang, Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Paris Beijing and 193 Gallery