Akeroyd Collection


Thao Nguyen Phan, Mute Grain (潘濤阮), 2019

Mute Grain is a 3-channel video installation that offers the artist's interpretation of the little-discussed 1945 famine in Vietnam. This historical event took place during the Japanese occupation of French Indochina between 1940 – 45 and is believed to have caused the death of more than two million people in North Vietnam. Departing from a short prose piece titled Starved by To Hoai that the artist read as a young girl, the film searches for answers to a question that Thao Nguyen Phan has been asking ever since; how can some events be glorified and others ignored? By whom and for whom is history told? Combining oral histories with Vietnamese folk tales and chronicles, the story is told from the perspective of two adolescents. Across the multiple screens, accompanied by lamenting music, the story of a ghost named August, who cannot peacefully transcend into the afterlife and her living brother named March who searches for her, is told. March and August are also the poorest months of the lunar calendar, a precarious time when farmers most struggle. Through studying this historic, troubled era, the ongoing contemporary struggles of food scarcity, waste and global poverty are made poignantly clear.

Medium3-channel video, colour, sound
Duration15 minutes 50 seconds
Editionof 5 + 2 APs