Soy Skin

Jes Fan (b. 1990, Canada) is based in Brooklyn, USA and Hong Kong.

Artist Bio

Soy skin, also known as yuba sheet, has long been a staple in East Asian food diets. It is made by boiling soy milk until a thin sheet of skin forms on top.

Imagine a large, shallow rectangular metal reservoir of soy milk in the center of a room. There are conduction coils underneath it, maintaining the soy milk at 101°C. As it boils, a thin sheet of yellow tofu skin congeals on the surface. As this skin curdles, a video is projected onto its surface. The video moves through images of monocultural soybean farms, factories, pharmaceutical labs, and stills of scars and skin of bodies, while slowly unveiling how this plant has practically become a machine. A machine that is the source for the pharmaceutical production of estrogen and testosterone. As the video progresses and the sheet of soy skin thickens, two performers rake and drape the wet, yellow, translucent soy sheet onto a tubular network of lattice sculptures. These tubular sculptures allude to arteries, circulatory systems, industrial pipings and laboratory equipments. The performance continues throughout the exhibition, as soy milk is continually poured and skimmed from the boiling reservoir.

Award Year

In Progress

An East Asian person standing in the center of a studio, surrounded by his biomorphic sculptures.

Jes Fan

Brooklyn, New York

Jes Fan received the Creative Capital Award in 2024. Jes Fan (b. 1990, Canada) is a Brooklyn-based artist who was raised in Hong Kong. He frequently employs organic materials and other components that invoke the body to explore the queer possibilities of nature and animacy. In his biomorphic forms and tactile sculptures, Fan places the visual elements of human contour—something biological and living—alongside the angular geometric tubings to evoke visceral responses from his viewers. Throughout his practice, Fan examines complex ideas of sexuality, gender, race, and species to complicate binary thinking.

Fan is the recipient of various fellowships and residencies, including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2022), Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant (2017), as well as the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship (2019-2020). Recent exhibitions include M+ Siggs Prize (2023); MIT List Visual Arts Center, UCCA Dune (2022); Kunsthall Trondheim (2021); Rockbund Art Museum, China (2019) and Hayward Gallery, UK (2019). Fan has also participated in numerous artist residencies with institutions including the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Recess Art, and Pioneer Works. He also participated in the Venice Biennale (2022), New Museum Triennial (2021), Liverpool Biennale (2021), Sydney Biennale (2020), Socrates Annual (2019).