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Tuan Andrew Nguyen

Tuan received his BFA from the University of California, Irvine in 1999 and his MFA from The California Institute of the Arts in 2004. He is based on Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

In 2006, he co-founded The Propeller Group, a platform for collectivity that situates themselves between an art collective and an advertising company. Accolades for the group include the main prize at the 2015 Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur and a Creative Capital award for their video project “Television Commercial for Communism.” The collective has been featured in numerous international exhibitions including “The Ungovernables” at the 2012 New Museum Triennial in New York City, Made In LA at the 2012 Los Angeles Biennial in California, Prospect 3 at New Orleans Triennial 2014, and at the Venice Biennale 2015.

Tuan’s residency occurred June 16–July 7, 2019.

For the filming for his short film entitled “The Boat People,” Tuan selected various landmarks in Bataan. It was in May 2018 when he first visited the Philippine Refugee Processing Center (PRCP) in Morong which inspired him to make a film set in it. The PRPC was a camp that housed refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the 1980s until the 1990s. Within the camp is a museum called “Boat People” which preserves archival records of the refugees during its beginnings, including the original boat that crashed into the shores of Morong in 1981, which transported the first eleven Vietnamese refugee. Other filming locations included at Mt. Samat in Pilar and the Nuclear Powerplant Village in Bagac.

Behind the scenes filming in Morong. 

Behind the scenes filming in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

“The Boat People” is set in an unspecified future at the edge of humanity’s possible extinction. It follows a group of children led by Riana, a strong-willed, and resourceful girl, who travel the seas and collect the stories of a world they never knew through objects that survived the test of time. It dwells on the question “when do statues come alive again?” and explores the legacy of Bataan’s memory at the crossroads of materiality, temporality, and rituals in a post-human world. The group is called The Boat People and, in their travels, they find and replicate objects in wood—which were fabricated in collaboration with the Las Casas wood carvers—as a way to piece together a history that they are trying to understand.

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Sculptures by Las Casas woodcarvers.
Sculptures by Las Casas woodcarvers.

The production team was composed of cinematographer Andrew Yuyi Truong, research assistant Jane Pujols, 1st Camera Assistant Rhon Bacal, and the Bellas Artes Team. Tuan casted five local children from Bagac, Bataan as the main characters of the film. Making their acting film debut are Gryshyll Reyes Ilarina as Riana, Michael Mendoza Soronio, John Carlos Cruz Moris, Jescee Dheivid Taba Recinte, and Benedict Recinte Revelo. 

The Boat People premiered at James Cohan Gallery in New York City on February 28, 2020. 

Stills from The Boat People. © 2020 Tuan Andrew Nguyen.

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