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The Bartlett Screening Room

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The Bartlett Screening Room is a new forum to screen short films and artist moving image works in virtual space across lockdown.

About this Event

Projects are international in scope, all set out to address vital questions around critical urbanism, using film as a testing site. Core themes - beginning with the topic of ACTIVATING THE ARCHIVE - will be explored through a rolling program and collective viewing will be followed by a Q+A with artist/filmmakers.

We will gather in virtual space on Tuesdays (bi-weekly) in the London lunchtime golden hour to allow us to be joined by students and publics 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.

Contact: henrietta.williams@ucl.ac.uk

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Running bi-weekly on Tuesdays 13.00-1400 (GMT)

Please register for this event and before every screening we will send you a short description of each film before the session and the joining link to join the Zoom on the day of the screening for all the listed screenings.

This Eventbrite will be updated weekly with the titles of the films that will be shown along with a short description.

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SCHEDULE OF SESSIONS:

CRITIQUING TECHNOLOGIES 2.2 - Tues 9 March – 13.00-14.00 (GMT)

Your father was born 100 years ago, and so was the Nakba, 2017, 7 mins

Canada Park, 2020, 8 mins

Razan Alsalah

With Dr Merijn Royaards acting as respondent

‘Al Nakba’, meaning ‘The Catastrophe’ is an Arabic word used to describe the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. Between 1947-49 at least 750,000 Palestinians were made refugees, 530 villages and cities were destroyed. Nakba Day is commemorated annually, the day after Israeli Independence Day, the two days of memorial linked but acting in binary opposition with each other.

The work of Lebanese-Palestinian artist Razan Alsalah uses the Nakba as a lens to investigate the politics of disappearance. The short film ‘Your father was born 100 years old, and so was the Nakba’ enacts this through a personal family history. Using the form of a documentary fiction the artist imagines her grandmother returning to her hometown of Haifa through the technology of Google StreetView. This is now the only way the artist’s Arab grandmother can return to the streets of her former home, as it now is located within the State of Israel. In her more recent short ‘Canada Park’ Alsalah returns to the theme of the Nakba but relates the notion of the specifics of the politics of disappearance of Palestine in contemporary Israel to the displacement of the Iroquis Mohawk from so-called Canada. We shift from one park of the disappeared, to another.

Within both these short films the limitations of Google Street View are made apparent. This is a flattened and temporal gaze, a moment in time shown from a single perspective. Alsalah critiques this singular gaze of the Google kino-eye through the addition of a floating layer of archival photographs. This offers up a much needed duality of vision, a way to present these contested landscapes as palimpsests, a multiplicity of layered histories playing out in the same space.

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CRITIQUING TECHNOLOGIES 2.3 - Tues 23 March – 13.00-14.00 (GMT)

Watching the Detectives, 2017, 36 mins

Chris Kennedy

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EXTRACTION 3.1 Tues 27 April – 13.00-14.00 (GMT)

EXTRACTION 3.2 - Tues 11 May – 13.00-14.00 (GMT)

EXTRACTION 3.3 - Tues 25 May – 13.00-14.00 (GMT)

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PAST SCREENINGS:

ACTIVATING THE ARCHIVE 1.1 - Tues 12 Jan – 12.00-13.00

Uppland, 2018, 30 mins

Killian Doherty & Edward Lawrenson

A collaboration between Killian Doherty (from the Bartlett PhD program) and Edward Lawrenson, ‘Uppland’ traces the journey of a European architect and filmmaker to the site of a now dis-used Liberian mine and the town built to serve it. Yekepa, once an iron ore extraction site of Swedish mining company (LAMCO), is now almost entirely abandoned.

Archival images, depicting thriving industry and a polished modernist settlement built for Swedish mining families, are set against contemporary images shot by Lawrenson – abandoned machinery, overgrown ruins, the trope of a waterless swimming pool – traces of absence of a misplaced colonial past. In its wake, New Yekepa emerges alongside. This second settlement is built by the displaced Mano community, the people who lived this place before and operate now in a land stripped of natural wealth.

The resulting short film is a knowing interrogation of the processes of place-making and the voids that the architectures of international development can leave behind.

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ACTIVATING THE ARCHIVE 1.2 - Tues 26 Jan – 13.00-14.00 (GMT)

Miasma, Plants, Export Paintings, 2017, 28 mins

Bo Wang & Pan Lu

Originally created as a two-channel video installation, the short film ‘Miasma, Plants, Export Paintings’ presents, disrupts, and spatialises concerns around the British Imperialist project in China. The project is a collaboration between artist/filmmaker, Bo Wang, and Pan Lu, researcher and writer.

The narrative charts the story of John Reeves, a tea officer in the East India Company, focusing on his interest in paintings and the documentation and exportation of plants from Canton. These seductive botanicals are interwoven with a European fear of the concept of miasma – the notion of airborne disease borne out of the humidity of the exotic East. Contemporary footage shot in darkened greenhouses, the fluorescent lighting reminiscent of the lurid early coloration of botanical watercolours commissioned by Reeves, is woven together with stories of a Chinese plague.

A wide array of archival material is presented and skillfully subverted: Pathé newsreels, pop culture 1960s British films, the V&A, the British Library, and of course, the living archive of Kew Gardens. Kew is presented here as an assemblage of exotic botanical species - the narrative of the film segueing to an analysis of colonial systems of human classification. Core to the film is an unravelling of the conflicting nature of the colonial gaze, a desire for the exotic interwoven with fear of the natural world and the people that come from this distant land.

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ACTIVATING THE ARCHIVE 1.3 - Tues 9 Feb – 13.00-14.00 (GMT)

No Archive Can Restore You, 2020, 5 mins 53 seconds

No Dance, No Palaver (trilogy), 2017-18, 18 mins

Onyeka Igwe

with Dr Thandi Loewenson acting as respondent.

The short film ‘No Archive Can Restore You’ and trilogy of shorts ‘No Dance, No Palaver’ present a series of carefully crafted narratives to reveal a slice of the problematic history of the British Empire in Nigeria. London-based artist Onyeka Igwe focuses closely on the role of the Colonial Film Unit as a way to rework and reconsider the specific role of filmmaking in discourses of Empire.

Across Africa the British authorities had a policy of utilising cinema as a tool of propaganda. In 1939 this technique was formalised through establishment of The Colonial Film Unit with the primary aim of producing so-called education films to be screened free of charge via a series of mobile film projection vans across the country – later this would morph into the Nigerian Film Unit.

In ‘No Archive Can Restore You’ Igwe returns us to the former site of the Nigerian Film Unit as it lies abandoned on Ikoyi Road in Lagos. Humidity and the passing of time have warped the surfaces of discarded wooden desks still littered with microphones, rusty canisters spill open as dusty film unspools across the floor. The site acts as an artefact of British operations in West Africa. The building is now without use, it’s filmic history no longer wanted and a residue of a colonial past.

In the trilogy ‘No Dance, No Palaver’ Igwe takes as her starting point material that would have been filmed across Nigeria by Colonial Information officers. These men were encouraged to shoot their own films with 16mm cameras and raw stock film provided by the British administration. The resulting archive material is radically transformed and reworked with the simple technique of layering drawings and text slides over original footage. Igwe leads us to a new understanding of this problematic material and the resulting art works speaks to the complexities of a British Colonial past whilst also asking broader questions related to the ethics of filmmaking practice.

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CRITIQUING TECHNOLOGIES 2.1 - Tues 23 Feb – 13.00-14.00 (GMT)

Operation Jane Walk, 2018, 16 mins

Robin Klengel & Leonard Müllner

A city tour through the New York streets and architecture of an Online Shooter Game, Operation Jane Walk is based on the dystopian multiplayer shooter Tom Clancy’s: The Division. In this work, the game’s digital war zone is appropriated with the help of an artistic operation. Within the rules of the game’s software, the militaristic environment is being re-used for a pacifistic city tour. The urban flâneurs avoid the combats whenever possible and become peaceful tourists of a digital world, which is a detailed replica of Midtown Manhattan. While walking through the post-apocalyptic city, issues such as architecture history, urbanism and the game developer’s interventions into the urban fabric are being discussed.

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Follow the bartlett_screening_room Instagram page for more regular updates

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The Bartlett Screening Room will be streamed live through Zoom.

Please ensure you download Zoom and create an account prior to the event.


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