Akeroyd Collection


Tuan Andrew Nguyen, The Boat People, 2020

The Boat People is single-channel video that has been displayed alongside hand-carved wooden sculptural objects to form a larger installation that references the narrative of the film. The video centres itself around a conversation between a young girl and the talking, disembodied head of a broken sculpture. Through their dialogue, we learn of the girl's history and status as the last living woman in an unspecified post-apocalyptic future. She leads a band of 4 other children who seem to be the survivors of multiple wars and destruction that have erased a past these children are not even familiar with. Between scenes of talking to the head, we see the gang scouring the land and ocean for relics of history. We see them recreate these objects in wood only to set them on fire, releasing their ashes into the ocean to ‘set them free’. Calling themselves 'The Boat People', we realize they are facing extinction in an area of land called Bataan, in the Philippines. The girl’s conversation with the statue increasingly reveals a disparity between their understanding and conception of life. The narrative anchors itself to the multiple layers of history in wars, and migration, and yet we only understand this through these young humans, who are unburdened of conventional thought and received opinion. They cannot understand the historic perspective of the statue which radiates human-centric ideas of gods, history, and human conflict. As guns, vehicles and museum artefacts burn, the talking statue learns of the boat people’s more spiritual worldview that centres the esoteric, the ancestral, and a decidedly less anthropocentric sensibility. This gives the statue and perhaps us, the viewers, a new hope for humanity's survival.

MediumSingle-channel video, 4K, Super 16mm transferred to digital, colour, 5.1 surround sound
Duration19 minutes 46 seconds
Editionof 5 + 2 APs