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Set in an unspecified future at the precarious edge of humanity’s possible extinction, "The Boat People" follows a group of children led by a strong-willed and resourceful little girl, who travel the seas and collect the stories of a world they never knew through objects that survived through time.
Calling themselves The Boat People, the group finds objects amongst the ruins of human civilization, spread through the seas. They replicate objects that resonate with them in wood as a way to try and piece together a history they are trying to understand. They then burn the carvings for reasons that have long been forgotten.
The Boat People arrive in a place formerly known as Bataan and come into contact with the rich layers of intermingled histories and eras embedded in the coast. They encounter objects from a refugee crisis, a world war, and some of the earliest migrations in human history. The little girl encounters a mysterious statue head buried in the sand. They engage in a dialogue that not only explores concepts of a future and a past world through an existential lens, but also gives us a look into the reasons behind this group’s mysterious ritual of burning their beautifully hand-carved replicas.
"The Boat People" was produced in collaboration with Bellas Artes Projects in Bataan, Philippines. The production team was composed of cinematographer Andrew Yuyi Truong, research assistant Jane Pujols, 1st Camera Assistant Rhon Bacal, and the Bellas Artes Team. Nguyen cast five children from the local fishing village in Bagac, Bataan as the main characters of the film. Making their film debut are Gryshyll Reyes Ilarina as Riana, Michael Mendoza Soronio, John Carlos Cruz Moris, Jescee Dheivid Taba Recinte, and Benedict Recinte Revelo. The film was shot in the different areas of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Mt. Samat, the Nuclear Powerplant Village, and the Phillipine Refugee Processing Center.
Tuan Andrew Nguyen: It Was What Is Will Be, Marabouparken Konsthall, Sundbyberg, Sweden, February 18 - April 16, 2023 The Boat People, Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University, Witchita, KS, January 26 - May 6, 2023 Here After, Bridge Projects, Santa Monica, CA, April 7 - July 30, 2022 STILL ALIVE, 2022 Aichi Triennale, Japan, July 20 - October 20, 2022 Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, March 18 - May 30, 2022 The Boat People, The Contemporary Dayton, Dayton, OH, November 11, 2021 - January 16, 2022 The Boat People, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA, August 6, 2021 - January 1, 2022 Everyone is an Artist: Cosmopolitical Exercises with Joseph Beuys, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany, March 27 - August 15, 2021 Stories of Resistance, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St Louis, MO, March 12 - August 15, 2021 Phase 01: A Wet Run Rehearsal of the 13th Shanghai Biennale, The 13th Shanghai Biennale: Bodies of Water, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, November 10 - November 14, 2020 KINO DER KUNST International Competition 2020, Munich, Germany, October 27 - November 1, 2020 21st San Diego Asian Film Festival, San Diego, CA, October 23 - October 31, 2020 Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE, September 19, 2020 - January 3, 2021 The Boat People, Vdrome Online, July 8 - July 21, 2020 State Affairs #6: Tuan Andrew Nguyen and The Propeller Group, State of Concept, Athens, Greece, July 2 - July 17, 2020 A Lotus in a Sea of Fire, James Cohan, 291 Grand Street, February 28 - July 2, 2020
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