Shoreline Movements: Becoming Alluvium

This film is part of the exhibition Shoreline Movements, a program of non-fiction films curated by Erika Balsom and Grégory Castéra (Council), in a space designed by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, for the Taipei Biennial 2020.

As an opening title puts it, Becoming Alluvium is a work “inspired by the beauty and suffering of the Mekong.” Drawing on Lao and Khmer folktales, as well as the writing of Italo Calvino, Marguerite Duras, and Rabindranath Tagore, Phan crafts a poetic allegory that addresses loss, reincarnation, and metamorphosis across three chapters with the river at their heart. The devastating collapse of a dam, everyday environmental degradation, and the desires of a princess to wear jewellery as beautiful as the monsoon dew come together to form a delicate evocation of the region and its syncretic culture.

Becoming Alluvium, 2019, 16:52

A moving image by

  • Thao Nguyen Phan

Assistant Director

  • Truong Cong Tung

With scripts based on

  • Lao folktale
  • Khmer folktale
  • L’Amant (The Lover) by Marguerite Duras
  • Le città invisibili (Invisible Cities) by Italo Calvino
  • The Gardener by Rabindranath Tagore


  • Illustrations by Louis Delaporte from
  • Voyage d’exploration en Indo-Chine: effectue pendant les annees 1866, 1867 et 1868 by Francis Garnier
  • & Voyage d’exploration en Indo-Chine, Le Tour du Monde, Paris: 1870-3 by Francis Garnier


  • Truong Minh Tuan
  • Truong Trong Hieu

Voice Over

  • Truong Que Chi
  • Recorded by Hoang Thu Thuy


  • Unknown parks unknown cities by Maria Papadomanolaki & Nhung Nguyen
  • Here comes the acoustic season by Hidekazu Imashige & Nhung Nguyen

Camera Operator

  • Ta Minh Duc

Sound Design

  • Tiikerie Pham

Color Grading

  • Bui Cong Anh


  • Thao Nguyen Phan


  • Thao Nguyen Phan

Images courtesy of the artist


  • The Han Nefkens Foundation in collaboration with
  • Chisenhale Gallery
  • LOOP Barcelona
  • Fundació Joan Miró
  • Galerie Zink