Set in Warsaw, the film loosely follows the character of an orphaned Vietnamese child who grows up to be absorbed into a dance group inspired by South Korean pop music. Widely popular within Polish youth subculture, K-pop is used by the artist as a vernacular material to trace a relationship between Eastern Europe and Asia with roots in Cold War allegiances. This dichotomy is further complicated by the significant Vietnamese diaspora currently living in Poland, composed of Northerners who migrated before the fall of the Iron Curtain, and Southerners who came in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Nguyen traces how these layered inner conflicts are reckoned with inside the process of finding shared symbols and naming oneself from within another’s regime.
Assembling a crew of teenaged Polish dancers who perform original choreography set to music and lyrics co-written by the artist, she looks at both the exaltation and erasure of personal traumas at play in the process of representation, identity building, and the formation of a shared nation space. The melodramatic pull of the spectacle is disrupted by the voice-over, culled from various and often contradictory writings on revolution by Ulrike Meinhof, Hannah Arendt, Mao Zedong, and others.
by Diane Severin Nguyen
with Weronika Nguyen, Jakub Gryzbala, Laura Blonska, Malgorzata Karel, Alina Cholody, Natalia Jankowski, Martyna Siedlarz, Michal Lasota, My Trinh, Patrycja Oleskiewicz
USA / Poland 2021 Polish, Vietnamese, English 19’ Colour World premiere


  • Weronika Nguyen
  • Jakub Gryzbala
  • Laura Blonska
  • Malgorzata Karel
  • Alina Cholody
  • Natalia Jankowski
  • Martyna Siedlarz
  • Michal Lasota (Voice)
  • My Trinh (Voice)
  • Patrycja Oleskiewicz (Voice)


Director Diane Severin Nguyen
Cinematography Diane Severin Nguyen
Editing Diane Severin Nguyen, Jacqueline Kramer
Music Ryder Bach
Sound Design Michael Beharie
Production Design Diane Severin Nguyen
Costumes Diane Severin Nguyen
Casting Diane Severin Nguyen, Iga Niewiadomska
Choreography Alvin Tran
Production Manager Maria Lozinska
Commissioned by SculptureCenter, New York
Renaissance Society, Chicago

Produced by

SculptureCenter, New York

Renaissance Society at University of Chicago

Diane Severin Nguyen

Diane Severin Nguyen is an artist who uses photography and time-based media. Nguyen earned an MFA from Bard College in 2020 and a BA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions were held at SculptureCenter, New York, Stereo, Warsaw, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Empty Gallery, Hong Kong, and Bureau, New York. Furthermore, her work has been included in various group exhibitions, and her first video Tyrant Star (2019) has been screened at various film festivals. IF REVOLUTION IS A SICKNESS is her second film.

IF REVOLUTION IS A SICKNESS was originally exhibited as part of an installation at SculptureCenter, New York and will later exhibit at the Renaissance Society, Chicago in May 2022. The film was a co-commission by SculptureCenter, New York and Renaissance Society, Chicago.


2019 Tyrant Star; 16 min. 2021 If Revolution Is a Sickness

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2022