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Jes Fan In Flux

May 15, 2019

Visit our Awards page for this film’s honors and recognition.

How can we be certain that the binary can satisfy us? A trained glass artist, sculptor Jes Fan creates elegant installation works that quietly question our most fundamental assumptions about gender, race, and identity. At UrbanGlass in downtown Brooklyn, the artist heats, rolls, and sculpts molten glass. He explains, “Learning how this matter transformed itself from one state into another really entranced me into thinking, ‘How I can I apply it to other mediums?'”

At the Recess artist residency in Brooklyn, Fan constructs a new work, filling hollow glass globules with silicone and injecting them with politically charged biological materials like testosterone, estrogen, melanin, and fat. These organ-like forms are then hung on a lattice structure. Detaching biological substances from the context of the body, Fan is able to examine their meanings and allow the viewer to see them in a completely new light.

Fan’s personal experiences—moving from his native Hong Kong to the United States, growing up queer, and transitioning—have profoundly shaped his artistic practice. “Maybe it is triggering the similar experiences of being racialized or being gendered,” says Fan of handling the materials injected into his work. “It’s just a disposition that you’re constantly placed in—a constant act of othering.”

Featured works include Mother is a Women (2018) and Systems II (2018).

More information and credits


New York Close Up Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director & Editor: Brian Redondo. Cinematography: Brian Redondo & Nick Capezzera. Location Sound: Ana Fernández & Edward Morris. Additional Camera: Nick Childers. Music: Blue Dot Sessions. Color Correction: Chris Ramey. Sound Mix: Adam Boese. Design & Graphics: Chips. Artwork Courtesy: Jes Fan. Thanks: Anderson’s Martial Arts Academy, James Corporan, Cut + Measure, Alex Laviola, Miller Institute for Contemporary Art, Alex Paik, Recess, & Urban Glass.

New York Close Up is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and by individual contributors.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Jes Fan

Jes Fan was born in 1990 in Canada, raised in Hong Kong, and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Fan received his BFA in glass from Rhode Island School of Design and works with glass, silicon, and resin to create sculptures that question binary conceptions of race, gender, and identity.

“Being queer in Hong Kong is very hard. You can’t find yourself represented. When you can’t see yourself in the mirror, you think you’re a ghost.”

Jes Fan

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