S1.E1 | Dew

S1.E1 | Dew

Follow this link for a transcript of this episode

Co-hosted by Emma Reimers and Lutz Koepnick

In this first episode of Art of Interference, we speak with Vietnamese visual artist Thao Nguyen Phan about her stunning video installation Becoming Alluvium, her career-long preoccupation with the waters of the Mekong River, and the role of artists in contemporary conversations about climate change.

When Becoming Alluvium first showed in New York in 2021, New York Times critic Holland Cotter called the film “a beauty.” It offers stunning images of what it means to live along the Mekong River today and how the effects of technological interventions change people’s relation to the river. Set to animated drawings and watercolors by Phan, the video ends with the story of a princess who tries to make jewelry out of dew. Eventually, she realizes her folly in imagining she could control the elements. She, then, quite happily transforms into dew herself and evaporates into the vast river system of the Mekong Delta. This final story, as well as the whole video, asks all kinds of tough questions about the role of art in our world of climate change and human-made emergencies.

In this episode, we also hear from climate scientist Steve Goodbred (Vanderbilt University) about the shifting waterways in Southeast Asia and the effects of rising oceans levels on the Mekong Delta; and from literary scholar and cultural critic Ben Tran (Vanderbilt University) about the extent to which Phan’s art offers models to live amid the climate emergencies of our present. 

For more information about Thao Nguyen Phan, please visit her website.

Click here for a trailer featuring Becoming Alluvium.

Find out more about Steve Goodbred here and about Ben Tran here.