Ren Hang was born in 1987 in North East China’s Jilin. At the young adult age of 20, Ren Hang had been studying advertising but found himself uneasy at his studies. He began using a point-and-shoot camera and taking photos of his friends. “It was because, I was bored of advertising and in specific, I was bored of life.” His work became increasingly noticed, having exhibitions in various cities such as Hong Kong, Athens, Bangkok, New York, Paris,and Los Angeles. Living in Beijing at the time of his death, he was going to turn 30 years old.
I first learned of Ren Hang while visiting Ampersand, a bookstore in Portland, OR. I was helped by the owner Miles. He showed me the book “New Love”, which was his newest book published by Session Press. I would always think back to not purchasing the book at the time. However, after a couple of months went by I called Miles and asked if he could bring a copy to LA Art Book Fair. Only having 2 left, Miles agreed and I was able to purchase “New Love”.
When Kathleen and I met Ren it was summer time 2016 in Los Angeles at Mama Gallery. This was his first solo exhibition. He was quiet and shy. We spoke a bit about his poetry and had an amusing conversation about what it was about.
To me, Ren Hang will always be remembered as one of the most creative photographers of all time.
Until Death Do Us Part focuses on the unexpected role cigarettes play in Chinese weddings. As a token of appreciation, it is customary for the bride to light a cigarette for each and every man invited. The bride and the groom are then invited to play some cigarette-smoking games o f an unprecedented ingenuousness. This publication pays homage to a tradition in which love and death walk hand in hand.
These photos come from the Beijing Silvermine project, an archive of half a million negatives salvaged over the years from a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing.
2nd edition of 2000 copies. Extraordinary cigarette pack sized photobook.