Trained as a painter, Thao Nguyen Phan creates installations and videos that intertwine the real and the imaginary, mixing mythology and folklore with urgent issues around historical amnesia, industrialisation, food security, and the environment. Her recent projects have focused on the Mekong River, exploring the social and environmental changes caused by climate change, overfishing, dam construction, and looted heritage in the aftermath of colonialism. First Rain, Brise Soleil (2021–ongoing) addresses US imperialism in the region and the 1977–1991 war between Vietnam and Cambodia. The film opens with the fictional narrative of a Vietnamese-Khmer construction worker who specialises in brise-soleil, the concrete lattices for shading and ventilating buildings that, in cities like Ho Chi Minh City (before 1976 named Saigon), unite a traditional Vietnamese building technique with a modern material linked to US domination. The film’s second half, set during the 18th century’s feudal wars, centres on a folkloric love story between a Vietnamese medicinal healer and a Khmer woman that unfolds around the symbolic significance of a durian (or “thouren”) fruit, a major product of the Mekong Delta. Contrasting the solitude of Saigon’s urban setting with the deceptively lush landscape of the Mekong, the video addresses romantic love from several women’s perspectives, producing a narrative that transforms and flows like the river itself.