The Artists of 2022: Jes Fan
By Pamela Wong
Departing from the forms and substances of the human body, Jes Fan’s artworks, attend to states of fluidity and transformation. As societal debates rage about the mutable nature of gender categories, Fan’s creations intersect with increasing scientific and medical research into endocrinology. The New York-based artist sees his own body as material to be manipulated. His sculptures Fragrant Harbour and Wounding (both 2022), for instance, shown in the Venice Biennale’s central exhibition “The Milk of Dreams” (4/23–11/27), combine 3D-printed replicas of his torso before chest surgery with dripping, milky silicone components injected with prolactin, a hormone found in both breast milk and tears. His earlier sculpture Systems II (2018), shown at “Symbionts” (10/21–2/26/23) at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, comprises a resin-covered frame with amorphous glass pieces infused with melanin, estradiol, and depo-testosterone. The liquid-like transparent bulbs that appear to grow out of the skin-like armature symbolize fluidity as a tactic to circumvent or transcend existing systems.