Becoming Alluvium

Director: Thao Nguyen Phan
Country: Vietnam
Duration: 16’’40’
Year: 2019
About the film
Becoming Alluvium is Phan’s most recent work: a single-channel colour film continuing her research into the Mekong River and the cultures that it nurtures. Through allegory, it explores the environmental and social changes caused by the expansion of agriculture, by overfishing and the economic migration of farmers to urban areas. “The Mekong civilization can be summarized in terms of materiality – the river of wet rice civilization – and in terms of spirituality – the river of Buddhism,” explains Phan. “However,” she continues, “unlike the teachings of compassion and mindfulness that are taught by Buddha, in reality, the land through which the Mekong flows experiences extreme turbulence and conflict […]. In recent decades, human intervention on the river body has been so violent that it has forever transformed the nature of its flow and the fate of its inhabitants.”

About the director
Thao Nguyen Phan ( Phan Thảo Nguyên) lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Trained as a painter, Phan is a multimedia artist whose practice encompasses video, painting and installation. Drawing from literature, philosophy and daily life, Phan observes ambiguous issues in social conventions and history. She started working in film when she began her MFA in Chicago. Phan exhibits internationally, with solo and group exhibitions including Chisenhale gallery (London, 2020); WIELS (Brussels, 2020); Rockbund Art Museum (Shanghai, 2019); Lyon Biennale (Lyon, 2019); Sharjah Biennial (Sharjah Art Foundation, 2019); Gemäldegalerie (Berlin, 2018); Dhaka Art Summit (2018); Para Site (Hong Kong, 2018); Factory Contemporary Art Centre (Ho Chi Minh City, 2017); Nha San Collective (Hanoi, 2017); and Bétonsalon (Paris, 2016), among others. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Hugo Boss Asia Art Award. In addition to her work as a multimedia artist, she is co-founder of the collective Art Labor, which explores cross disciplinary practices and develops art projects that benefit the local community. Thao Nguyen Phan is expanding her “theatrical fields”, including what she calls performance gesture and moving images. Phan is a 2016-2017 Rolex Protégée, mentored by internationally acclaimed, New York-based, performance and video artist, Joan Jonas.