​A FERRY MAN

(2021)

26:00 mins

two channel video, color, sound

"That’s how life goes. Once the stomach ceases to whisper, that’s when we begin to hear the values of our roots murmur softly to our ears." - Nguyen Sy Ho.

The video is inspired by Nguyễn Sỹ Hồ, known as Người Đưa Đò (the ferryman). He is a retired teacher and just an ordinary citizen of Vietnam. Only special thing: his family suffered a lot of painful losses due to the Vietnam war, so his wish is to contribute a little bit of his own efforts to be a "ferryman" to bring the souls of heroic martyrs are lost somewhere back to their homeland, ancestors and clans. He goes to all the Martyr's Cemeteries around of Vietnam to take pictures of each gravestone and posts it on his website (http://www.nguoiduado.vn/ ). The purpose is that people whose relatives who fought in the war are still lost, the bodies can be buried in another local area without their knowledge, they can visit his website to find them.

The video was recreated by a man's performance, he wrote down the names of the martyrs on the rice paper, the rice paper filled his stomach as a food, its own identity destroyed but at the same time feeding other bodies. Rice paper is a suitable food to carry during migrations, and not only that, I also imagine it to be part of the soldier's marches into battle. I also think about How and Why that there’s only a limited resource that documents the origin and development of Vietnamese rice paper. The floating, unidentified nature of the subject but outstanding in terms of broad spectrum in culinary culture that has attracted me

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Performer: Nguyen Hoang Anh

Sound editor: Pham The Vu

Commissioned work by Jakarta Biennale 2021 ESOK with the support of Goethe-Institut

© 2021 Nguyen Vu Xuan Ha

​Photo from "A Ferry Man 01"

​Handwriting on rice paper,  photo from "A Ferry Man 02"