The Bartlett School of Architecture


The Bartlett Screening Room

12 May 2021–26 May 2021, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Bartlett Screening Room

The Bartlett Screening Room is a bi-weekly forum to screen short films and artists' moving image works in virtual space.

Event Information

Open to





Henrietta Williams


Projects are international in scope, and each project sets out to address vital questions around critical urbanism, using film as a testing site. Core themes - beginning with the topic ACTIVATING THE ARCHIVE - will be explored through a rolling programme, and collective viewing will be followed by Q+As with artists/filmmakers.

The Bartlett Screening Room gathers in virtual space on Wednesdays in the London lunchtime golden hour, to allow students and public attendees from around the world to join - from Bogota, to The Bartlett, to Beijing. Watching together, talking together, thinking together.

The Bartlett Screening Room is a collaboration from Henrietta Williams, an artist/researcher based at the Bartlett School of Architecture, and Oliver Wright, programmer of Open City Documentary Festival.

The series runs bi-weekly on Wednesdays 13:00 − 14:00 (BST).

You can register for the series at the link above. An email will be sent out to all registrants before every screening, with a short description of each film and the Zoom link to join the screening on the day.

Keep an eye on the Eventbrite page, which will be updated weekly with titles and descriptions for upcoming films.


12 May | 13:00 | All that Perishes at the Edge of Land

All that Perishes at the Edge of Land, 2019, 31 minutes

Hira Nabi and the Gadani Shipbreakers

The short film ‘All that Perishes at the Edge of Land’ takes as its site of investigation the Gadani Shipyard in Pakistan, a location of multiple incidents of fire, explosions, and environmental disaster. The global ship recycling industry operates at a monstrous scale with little regard for human life and the rights of workers. Gadani is one of the largest ship breaking yards in the world. Workers here break up over 150 vessels each year salvaging 100 million tons of steel in the process. However, this process of so-called recycling has led to such an increase of toxicity levels in the water that the local fishing trade is in collapse.

Artist/filmmaker/writer Hira Nabi presents to us this beautiful and terrible landscape, one of vast, rusted, dying ships and Lilliputian workers as they carry out their work of destruction. In the course of the film we are led to understand that the Gadani shipyard has been well documented by the international media as a case study of the chaos and danger of the recycling industry.

Nabi's contribution offers up a more detailed and pertinent study. Rich visual imagery presenting the spectacle of the yard in action, with elderly locals coming to set up deckchairs for front row viewing. The romance of these rusty hulls bathed in golden light is undercut by the voices of a series of workers describing the brutal reality of their daily life. Nabi skillfully oscillates between the voices of her ship breaker collaborators and a fictionalised narrative voiced by the ship herself as she tells the tale of her own achievements as a Korean container ship and her ultimate demise on the sands of Pakistan.

26 May | 13:00 | The Colony

The Colony, 2016, 29 minutes, Dinh Q. Lê  

Kindly supported by Artangel. With James O’Leary as respondent. 

Initially conceived of as a multi-screen installation, this specially arranged screening of ‘The Colony’ offers up a single channel video iteration. Internationally acclaimed artist Dinh Q. Lê was commissioned by Artangel to realise this ambitious project that takes as its site of investigation a set of remote islands off the coast of Peru. The Chincha islands are naturally abundant in guano, ammonia rich bird dung that has exceptional fertilising powers. European colonisers came to the substance via the Incas; each Inca household had a share of a guano island, as a way to ensure the crops thrived. By the early 1800s the British had heard of the potential of guano and struck up a trade deal with Peru to set about extraction and shipping on a massive scale. These tiny islands became a focus of trade wars, military speculation and colonial acquisition. 

Dinh Q. Lê work introduces the viewer to the guano islands with a series of aerial viewpoints through filming with large drones. The sublime is activated here to draw us into a sense of omnipotent power and control, the view from above acting as a visual mirroring of the colonial processes of extraction embedded in the history of these Peruvian islands. As the drone skirts the edge of the cliff disturbing the local bird population, we as viewers, are amongst and above the birds that create the guano. The landscape below is a barren deserted outpost, the propellors of the drone stirring up the white dust of bird excrement as it hovers to land.  

The physical challenges of harvesting guano upon the worker meant that the British quickly imported a forced labour system. Chinese ‘coolies’ suffered from the terrible health effects of breathing in ammonia. As in so many other sites of extraction around the world, there is a human cost. The Chincha Islands have seen two rounds of guano boom and bust, yet as Dinh Q. Lê’s work reveals, workers remain toiling by hand, extraction continues for this renewable resource.  

With thanks to Artangel. 

Dinh Q Lê, The Colony, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Han Nefkens H+F Collection, and Proyecto Amil, Lima.  

The Colony is part of The Artangel Collection, an initiative to bring outstanding film and video works, commissioned and produced by Artangel, to galleries and museums across the UK. The Artangel Collection has been developed in partnership with Tate, is generously supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Foyle Foundation and uses public funding from Arts Council England. 

More information

Image: Lidar scan of the Coronet Cinema before demolition, Elephant and Castle, 2020, Keren Kuenberg