The month of June is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community and reflect on the advances of queer people to strengthen civil liberties around the world, even in a moment of great political uncertainty. It’s also a good opportunity to spotlight the richness and diversity of culture we have within the community. Hyperallergic is commemorating Pride Month by featuring one contemporary queer artist per day on the website and letting them speak for themselves. Click here to participate.

Jes Fan at work (image courtesy the artist, photo by Madison Warnemunde)

Jes Fan

Age: 28

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Artistic Medium: Sculpture, video, performance

Who are you and what do you do?

I am an artist born in Canada, raised in Hong Kong, and currently based in Brooklyn, New York. I am fascinated by the body’s fat, excretions, implants, hormones, pigment, etc.. Natural or artificial, visible or atomic, named or unnamed, I borrow these bodily fragments in my work to make tangible the absurdity of normative identity categories. To borrow the words of Rachel C. Lee, my work is concerned with “the surreal realities of existing as a biological body in the age where the body is reconceptualized in digital, informational and molecular terms.”

What are the top three greatest influences on your work?

Mall culture, mold-making, and factories.

Describe your coffee order.


What is your greatest accomplishment?

Persuading my mother to donate her urine for my artwork, “Mother is a Woman,” after days of trying.

What constitutes a perfect day?

Biking in the spring, being surprised by the tiniest detail in a city that I’ve been to and yet not been to.

What was your favorite exhibition from last year?

The permanent collection at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan.

What would your superpower be if you had one?

I want to be Mewtwo: powerful, mind reading, world bending, hairless and genderless.

Tell us a lie about yourself.

I am a mailman.

What did you make when you first started making art?

I used to draw people’s heads in heart shapes, and I also made a terra-cotta “Ding” vessel where the holder was my face. (A ding vessel is an ancient Chinese vessel with three legs.) I still have the thing.

What is the greatest threat to humanity?

Global warming and plastic pollution — and also the cheeto.

Do you prefer spilling the tea or throwing shade?

Tea parties with the pinkies up.

What is your all-time favorite work of art?

My memories are in patches and my desires are perennial. In my mind I’m swiping through Patty Chang’s “In Love,” Constantin Brâncusi’s “Princess X,” Isamu Noguchi’s “Bivalve,” or his “The Letter One,” or his “Planet In Transit #1,” etc.. Janine Antoni’s “Lick and Lather,” Rachel Lachowicz’s “Lipstick Cube,” Song Dynasty [jade] burial suits and orifice plugs, the meat-shaped Jasper stone in the Taiwan National Palace Museum. There’s so many.

What are your plans for pride month?

Leave NYC and its corporate pride parade and go to cities where brands like Zara and H&M fears to align themselves with the pink money. I get so angry at their hypocrisy.

What is the future of queerness?

“Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put it another way, we are not yet queer” — Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity by José Esteban Muñoz

Back in my day…

Pokemon was in 2D and summers never hit past 40°C (104°F).

Name one guilty pleasure.

Carbohydrates from any and all cultures.

Greatest queer icon of the internet: Babadook, Momo, or a pervading sense of existential angst?

A pervading sense of existential angst.

Is there enough support for queer artists where you live?

No, not in New York and especially not where I’m from, which is Hong Kong.

How do you stay cool during the summer?

I leave New York.

What is your favorite type of milk?

This is the whitest question. I’m not going to fall into the trap.

“Queer Artists in Their Own Words” is an ongoing feature happening every day in the month of June. For prior posts in the series, please click here.

Zachary Small was a writer at Hyperallergic.