Yunfei Ren ("yoon-fay"; he/him) is a visual artist living in San Francisco, working in installation, photography, sound and sculpture. His art practice centers on immigrant experience, exploring the complexity of identity and belonging in the context of history, citizenship and queerness. Ren seeks to connect the past with the present by constructing conceptual "portals" which transport the viewer across time, encouraging contemplation about our contemporary existence. His work has been exhibited at The Guardhouse, part of FOR-SITE at Fort Mason (2024), de Young Museum (2023, 2020), Stanford University (2022), Chinese Historical Society Museum (2021), and has been featured in the Washington Post.

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30''x40'' | Acrylic, oil pastel, gouache on canvas

PREVAILING WINDS at The Guardhouse

FOR-SITE is honored to present Yunfei Ren at The Guardhouse as part of The Guardhouse Program, which is designed to serve three artists annually, each of whom will create a temporary art installation.

The Guardhouse, a former military guard station at the main entrance to Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, is situated with views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Calling forth the Golden Gate’s history as a point of entry for transpacific migration, Ren’s installation at The Guardhouse commemorates the more than 300,000 Chinese immigrants who endured a several weeks-long steamship voyage from southern China to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush (1848-1855) up until the U.S. Congress enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, when Chinese laborers were banned from entering on the basis of racial identity. The installation is situated on the waterfront with views of Angel Island, where between 1910 and 1940 an estimated several hundred thousand Chinese, Japanese, and other immigrants entered the United States through the Angel Island Immigration Station in pursuit of the “American Dream.”

To create his installation, Ren makes unorthodox use of Joss papers, which are traditionally burned as ancestral offerings in Chinese culture, by eclipsing the interior walls of the historic building. The individually tacked papers flutter inside The Guardhouse against the forced air of an oscillating fan reminiscent of one that cooled the artist’s childhood home. “I have been obsessed with building portals that look into the past and connect me to the history of transpacific migration,” Ren says. Joss paper is tied to the Qingming Festival, also known as the Tomb Sweeping Festival, in which families pay respect to ancestors by caring for their gravesites and making offerings.

On view March 23 - June 9, 2024
Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco
Open daily, 24 hours a day
Opening Reception April 4, 2024, 5-7 p.m. 

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