My Dad The People Smuggler

Phuong Ngo

1 Jan - 31 Dec 2013

“Pulau Bidong was commissioned by the United Nations as a refugee camp in 1979 to cope with the exodus of boat people following the fall of Saigon. In its 12 years of operation, Pulau Bidong processed 250,000 Vietnamese refugees. Included in this number are my father, mother, and brother.

In 1981 my father sailed his final boat into the bay of Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. From there he, my mother, and my brother were transferred to Pulau Bidong where they lived for several months before being accepted into Australia. This work is a desire to understand and retell their stories by journeying to Pulau Bidong and exploring the point of their freedom – the freedom into which I was born. These photos, documents, and video work combine the experiences of my family in 1981 and my experiences of Pulau Bidong today.”

-Phuong Ngo


‘My Dad The People Smuggler’ exhibited at:

In A World of Wounds, Artbank, 2018

Macquarie Digital Portrait Award 2013, National Portrait Gallery, 2013

Counihan Gallery, 2013