Ove four years ago I went to an exhibition of photographs by the Japanese photographer, Nobuyoshi Araki. Many, but by no means all of them, were of women, often naked, sometimes outrageously so, and sometimes intricately bound in what, I gather, was a traditional Japanese style – though not the sort of tradition widely on display. I wrote three blog posts about Araki, one based on a documentary about his working which included footage of photo sessions with female models, many/most of whom where not professional models. It was fascinating stuff, especially his (often jovial) relationship with his models during a photo shoot.
I was reminded of that while reading about a Chinese (art) photographer who died this year, Ren Hang (Jenna Wortham In The NYTimes). Here's the first paragraph:
Jun Sui didn’t plan to get naked for the Chinese art photographer Ren Hang. But as the day wore on, she loosened up, and the clothes came off. Ren’s shoots could become electrified with the illicitness of being nude, especially when they were in public, where such activity in China guarantees arrest or worse. The atmosphere of adventure created trust, as did the spirit of rebellion. “There was a sense of being free,” Sui told me. In person, Sui is demure, inconspicuous; in Ren’s photographs, her eyes blaze from her crouch between two upright women, her arms snaking between their thighs. “We hide the body in our culture,” Ren once said; in China, it is “a demoralization to show what they think should be private.” Ren, Sui said, encouraged everyone around him to shed that conditioning.
While you're at it, you might also look at this brief portrait of Jane Juska, by Maggie Jones.“He repeated over and over that nothing was ever planned for photographs,” said Dian Hanson, an editor at Taschen who worked with Ren on a monograph of his photographs that was published earlier this year. “Nothing was planned in his life. He was determined to live in the moment always. There was no thought for the future. In retrospect, one sees that as a plan not to be around for very long.”