Tuan Andrew Nguyen
Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s work explores the power of storytelling through video and sculpture. His projects are based on extensive research and community engagement, tapping into inherited histories and counter-memory. Nguyen extracts and re-works dominant, oftentimes colonial histories and supernaturalisms into imaginative vignettes. Fact and fiction are interwoven in poetic narratives that span time and place. The Specter of Ancestors Becoming, 2019, the central film of this exhibition, is a four-channel video installation that envisions the memories and desires of descendants of the tirailleurs sénégalais, West African colonial soldiers who were among the French forces sent to combat Vietnamese liberation uprisings in the 1940’s. After the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, hundreds of Vietnamese women migrated to Africa with their children and their Senegalese husbands who had been stationed in Indochina. Other soldiers left their Vietnamese wives behind and took only their children, sometimes raising them without knowledge of their origins. Nguyen collaborated with members of the Vietnamese community in Senegal to write and stage imagined conversations with or between their parents or grandparents that highlight nuances in strategies of remembering. As narrators and actors, the voices of these descendants embody a historical conscience that challenges understandings of decolonising societies.