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Ranran Fan: Brutally Sensitive

August 6, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

When Ranran Fan can’t figure out a solution to a problem, she does the only thing she can: she invents one. From handmade objects to computer-based encryption systems, Fan’s invented devices are each a matter of necessity, designed to address issues or challenges that she has faced as a woman, as a Chinese citizen, and as a foreigner and person of color in the US. In Brutally Sensitive, Fan transforms the NO LAND space itself into a communication device: an enveloping installation involving large-scale digital art, poetry, video, and more. The exhibition goes on view on Saturday, August 6 with a reception 6-9 pm and extends through September 17, 2022.

Across Brutally Sensitive, Fan weaves together unusual relationships between words, letters, shapes, and patterns, using materials that blur the boundary between the hand-made and the machine-made. In one room, viewers find themselves encircled by delicate, suspended fabric in patches sewn together using a 3D filament pen and covered in lines of laser-cut poetry written by Fan in Chinese and English. In an adjoining room, a large-scale photo spans from wall to floor of an image that references the body–but abstracted by Fan into something almost unrecognizable or inhuman.

In the past, Fan’s invented devices have taken many forms. These include a puzzle made from her own social media posts as a response to government surveillance and censorship in China, where she spent more than twenty years of her life. In another work, Fan created a digital instrument that converted racist words that have been directed at her into a piece of music. “I hope that these absurd, futile devices can allow me to continue to expand this inner, alternative world,” Fan says, “and push back against the outer world, creating a real space for me and people who resonate with me to breathe and live freely.”

According to Fan, the idea for Brutally Sensitive sprang in part from her own experience living with PTSD, which she describes as a state of emotional numbness. “When I’m in this state, even though I don’t feel the emotion, the emotion still happens,” says Fan. “Sometimes, when you have a cut on your hand, you don’t feel the cut, you just see it—it’s like that experience, somehow.”

As visitors explore the imagery, sounds, words, and textures of the installation (details intended to activate each of her viewers’ senses), they will also begin to notice the way that their own movements seem to affect and communicate to other rooms just out of view. Through each element, Brutally Sensitive attempts to confront this feeling of detachment, jumpstarting a kind of reconnection between otherwise disconnected spaces. Viewers are encouraged to visit the installation with a friend or companion, so that they might experience and uncover the installation’s internal logic – and its responsive dialogue of sensations – together.

Throughout her exhibition, words appear as solitary fragments or repeated with variation; elsewhere in the form of verses of poetry. All are printed in typefaces specially designed by Fan. She says, “Everytime I use my fonts, it forms a protection for myself to express things I cannot really talk about.”

Fan’s use of language as a means of communication is at the heart of much of her imagery. Her words alternately swirl, glow, or dance outward towards the viewer; others are blurred, just out of focus. In this way, Fan addresses the complicated ability that language has to aid in understanding both ourselves and others. “I use language like a material,” she says. “What I want is to communicate.”


August 6, 2022
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:


No Land
54 1/2 E. San Francisco St.
Santa Fe, 87501
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New Mexico
Santa Fe

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