Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Thao Nguyen Phan, VN

The Mekong River is a body of water bearing great material and spiritual significance to the people who live along its banks. It flows from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea, crossing through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam on its way.

In Becoming Alluvium, Thao Nguyen Phan reflects on how the river has been affected by war, agriculture, overfishing and pollution. Intertwining myths and stories with factual events, her allegory draws on the thought and writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Marguerite Duras and Italo Calvino as well as traditional Khmer folktales.

The artist combines found footage with animation and her own film material as part of an ongoing research project on the histories and possible futures of the river. Her contemplative enquiry unfolds over three chapters. Beginning with destruction, the story ends in regeneration and renewal.