When a Boat Becomes a Burial

Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn
30.10.2024 - 05.01.2025

With When a Boat Becomes a Burial (working title), the House for Media Art presents the first solo exhibition of Vietnamese artist Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn in Germany. In collaborative projects and poetic artworks, he explores how storytelling can be a healing process. To this end, he works with communities from different regions of the world that have been traumatized by colonialism, wars and displacement. The focus of his exhibition in Oldenburg is his latest project, in which he explores the Luf-Boot, which is part of the ethnological collections of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin and whose provenance has been the subject of debate in recent years.

The exquisitely handcrafted boat comes from the island of Luf in Papua New Guinea and was used by the inhabitants of the island in the late 19th century for sea voyages, fishing and ceremonial activities. In the context of colonial violence by Germans, it was brought from the former "German New Guinea" to Berlin in 1904. With the loss of the last boat of this type, the island's inhabitants also lost the craftsmanship that had been preserved in it. Nguyễn approaches the history of the boat artistically in a multi-channel video installation and with a series of objects that he produced in collaboration with Luf's descendants. For the film installation, Nguyễn processes historical photo and film material, dialogs and contemporary footage from the museum and combines documentary with fictional scenes. He is less interested in reconstructing history than in reviving it through artistic imagination: Nguyễn sees the boat as a "bridge between the past and the future, between the dominant narrative of German colonialism and the erased stories of the people of Papua New Guinea".  

After its first stop in Oldenburg, the exhibition will be shown at The Showroom in London and at the agYU Gallery at York University in Toronto.

Curated by Edit Molnár and Marcel Schwierin


Opening: 30.10.2024 17:30

Funded by

Kulturstiftung des Bundes
Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur
Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung
Landessparkasse zu Oldenburg