Spirit of Bidong is a photographic work that depicts an imagined ‘last man on earth.’ Created in conjunction with Nguyen’s video project The Island, a film shot on Pulau Bidong, an island off the coast of Malaysia that became the largest and longest-operating refugee camp after the Vietnam War. The artist and his family were some of the 250,000 people who inhabited the tiny island between 1978 and 1991. The film takes place in a dystopian future, the island now overgrown by jungle and filled with crumbling monuments and relics.
The lone figure of Spirit of Bidong, the last protector of the island, dons hand-made, sculptural headdresses that were made from scavenged materials on the island as well as materials that washed ashore. They are a material embodiment of what it means to fill the voids left by history. The headdresses are ritual objects. Here, the human body is transformed by the totemic power of spiritual objects.