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Haoran Fan’s Anxious Images of ‘Displacement’

These layered, grainy photos capture the photographer Haoran Fan’s unsettled feelings about home.

“Growing up, I lived and worked in many different places,” says Haoran Fan. The challenges of relocating inspired the photographer to create Displacement, an eerie series of black and white images that capture the feeling of not knowing where to call home.

The photos in Displacement are grainy, thickly textured, often incorporating more than one image. A small, naked figure can be seen in most of them, usually with their back to the camera, as if turning to hide, or running away. Although the viewer has to assume it is Fan who is taking the photos, this anonymous person also acts as a stand in for him. The result is an uncomfortable feeling, as if we are looking at someone trying to run away from himself.

The scenery in the images is also ambiguous, calling to mind a deserted beach at night, or a dense forest with no clear path through it. In one image, the person appears silhouetted in the lone bright window of a dark house. The angle of the viewpoint here creates a voyeuristic feel, as if the viewer is looking into the house from below.

Fan was born in China, but is now based in Brooklyn. Moving frequently created a feeling of displacement for the artist, who “often felt isolated and anxious without a sense of belonging.” The anxious sense of displacement in Displacement comes from the unsettling feeling that Fan is watching himself from outside, trying to make sense of “the conflict between memories and reality,” as he puts it.

Find more of Haoran Fan’s work at his online portfolio.

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