The Legacy of Guano

Ikon Gallery 1 Oozells Square Brindley Place B1 2HS
Thursday 17 March 2016 (18:00-19:30)

Visit to book online or call Ikon on 0121 248 0708.

The Legacy of Guano (Ikon)
Dinh Q. Lê. Chincha Norte Island. Production shot of The Colony (2015). Photo courtesy of the artist.


Dr Frank Uekotter, Reader in Environmental Humanities, University of Birmingham, provides the historical context for the current Ikon exhibition of video work by acclaimed Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Lê. The talk gives an insight into Lê’s newly commissioned work, The Colony, which is loosely based on 19th century depictions of a cluster of islands off the west coast of Peru, rich in guano, a powerful fertilizer.

Exploring the drama of absurdity, greed and human suffering, all for the brown gold of bird excrement, Lê’s narratives touch on aspects of the islands’ history such as the nineteenth century imperial wars between Spain and its former colonies Peru and Chile, and the US Guano Act of 1856 that authorised over one hundred claims for uninhabited islands, reefs and atolls in the Pacific and Atlantic.

Admission free, booking essential. Visit to book online or call Ikon on 0121 248 0708. For more information about Ikon’s exhibition by Dinh Q. Lê, The Colony, (27 January-3 April 2016) visit

Presented by Ikon in partnership with University of Birmingham as part of Arts & Science Festival 2016, a week-long celebration of ideas, research and collaboration across campus.