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Shetland Arts is delighted to announce that it is working with London-based commissioning body Artangel to host an exhibition at Mareel in early 2018 by Vietnamese born artist and filmmaker Dinh Q. Lê.

Ahead of this, Dinh Q. Lê will be visiting Shetland and will speak about his work, in conversation with Artangel Curator Phoebe Roberts at Mareel on 17 October at 6.30pm.

Dinh Q. Lê was born in Hà Tiên, in what was then South Vietnam, in 1968. In the late 1970s, his family escaped by boat before eventually settling in the US where he completed his education. He now spends time in both Vietnam and Los Angeles producing his work, which includes installation, video, sculpture, and urban intervention. He has exhibited extensively in many international group shows and was the first Vietnamese artist to have a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010).

His work, The Colony, is a film installation commissioned by Artangel. It immerses the viewer in panoramic scenes of the timeless and desolate Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru, home to an enormous colony of sea birds. It gradually reveals a sublime landscape with a complex history…

By the mid- 19th century the islands had become mountains of guano. A potent fertiliser, guano quickly became one of the world’s most valuable natural resources. British merchants controlled its trade, using indentured Chinese labourers working under brutal conditions. War was triggered by Spanish, American and Peruvian forces scrambling for control of the islands and in 1856, the US Congress Guano Act enabled it to seize uninhabited islands around the world. The advent of chemical fertilisers saw the islands re-colonised by birds. Architectural traces of the conflicted past remain in ruins.

The islands have not been permanently inhabited for more than a century, but labourers return to harvest the guano by hand every few years. Accompanied by Daniel Wohl’s elegiac soundtrack, Lê films from a boat approaching the islands, cameras on the ground and drones circling above to capture a bleak landscape haunted by its brutal past.

Jane Matthews of Shetland Arts said, “We are delighted to be working with Artangel and to be welcoming Dinh to Shetland to give people the chance to engage with his work and hear more about The Colony”.

Tickets for the talk are available through Shetland Arts Box Office. Book now at tickets.shetlandarts.org, over the phone on 01595 745500 or in person at Mareel.

[Photo: Dormitory and worker kitchen on Chincha Norte Island. Production shot of The Colony, 2016 courtesy of Dinh Q. Lê.]

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