Yunfei Ren ("yoon-fay"; he/him) is a visual artist living in San Francisco, working in installation, photography, sound and sculpture. His work centers on the immigrant experience, exploring the complexity of identity and belonging in the context of history, citizenship and queerness. Inspired by his personal experience, Ren's practice investigates the history of racial prejudice and the tension between the past and the present. His work was exhibited at Stanford University (2022), Chinese Historical Society Museum (2021), de Young Museum (2020) and has been featured in the Washington Post.

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Sounds of the Boundless Ocean is a body of work consisting of an installation, a soundtrack, a photograph and a performance. It is inspired by the trans-pacific journey that 19th-century Chinese immigrants embarked towards San Francisco. The installation evokes the immigrants' sense of hope and loneliness during the arduous passage, yet hints at what awaited them in the decades and a century to come. Tensions are emphasized throughout the piece; the tight ropes contrast with soft curves of the balloons, while the dim lights inside flicker to the thuds from the soundtrack. The kinetic construction and the live performance fuse the artist with the diasporic community. Meanwhile, the movements shuttle the audience between the past and the present, drawing a lineage between historical racial trauma and contemporary immigrant experience. The balloons, while light and buoyant, are fragile and ultimately not in control of their fate, which serve as a metaphor for the immigrant labor exploited in building the American Empire.

Installation: 150’'(W) x 180''(L) x 160’'(H) | balloons, LED lights, LED controller, electrical wires, ropes, pulleys, railroad spikes, fabrics
Soundtrack: 7 minutes | two-channel sound recording, four speakers
Photograph: 24’’ x 36’’ | inkjet print
Performance: 7 minutes | performed live at the Coulter Gallery on February 22, 2023

Exhibited at the Coulter Gallery at Stanford University
February 21 - March 17, 2023



Installation view:



A story about loss, alienation and the search for belonging. A ghost of a Chinese coolie who worked on the Transcontinental railroad emerges at night in the modern-day San Francisco Chinatown. Every location presented in the images tells a story about the history and the experience of the Chinese diaspora. The series recounts the historic discrimination and prejudice against the Asian immigrant community and draws connection to today’s continuing violence against immigrants at large.

Exhibited at the

de Young Open at de Young Museum
September 30, 2023 – January 7, 2024

Rotterdam Photo
February 2023

Chinese Historical Society Museum
October 16 – November 12, 2021

Press: Washington Post; SF Standard 


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