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Inaugurating the 2017 Tyburnia Tour, Rattis Books is pleased to present the opening iteration of Tyburnia live film and soundtrack performance by James Holcombe, Dead Rat Orchestra and Lisa Knapp.

‘There had been a hanging tree at Marble Arch called the Tyburn Gallows. For over 700 years this district was regularly used as a site for the execution of men, women and children, and its estimated that over 40,000 people were killed there. In addition to a gallows there was a gibbet and whipping post, and a large fixed stone, which is marked on John Rocque’s 1746 map of London with ‘here soldiers are shot’, presumably for desertion. The name Tyburn (or Tyburnia) comes from the ‘lost’ river Tyburn which traversed the area, [..] a site where the desires of the State, Church and Capital, to discipline and punish, were played out on a regular basis.

The sheer horror of what lay in the archive prompted [James Holcombe] to start to make a film and explore the notion that the ‘lesson’, as Peter Linebaugh describes it in his book The London Hanged, is still being taught: that money, capital, and the power structures which surround them are still just as determined to protect their interests in this period of late capitalism as they have been throughout history. [1]

Shot on 8mm and 16mm film, the work drifts through artefacts associated with the Tyburn; reliquaries housing the remains of catholic martyrs, body parts preserved by surgeons, the bell that tolled on the eve of executions, and the eventual resting place of the gallows themselves.

For this iteration, James Holcombe will be utilising multiple film projectors for an expanded cinema performance of the work featuring physical manipulation, optical distortion, and live destruction of film.

Dead Rat Orchestra in collaboration with award winning multi-instrumentalist and singer Lisa Knapp, will perform a live soundtrack featuring songs composed by or for those condemned to 'dance the Tyburn jig', bringing a new understanding to broadside ballads that have become a staple of folk music, but here presented in close association to their original context.

The shadow of the Tyburn Tree extended well beyond London, with gallows, whipping posts and gibbets in many market and county towns. To explore this rich and melancholy history Tyburnia will be performed as close to the location of various regional gallows as possible.

[1] See where they are rubb’d’: On Execution Ballads and Tyburn Gallows by James Holcombe with Nathaniel Mann and Una Mcllvenna in Sequence (Issue 4, 2016)

Film Programmes 

03 Expanded Cinema : Tyburnia 

James Holcombe, Dead Rat OrchestraLisa Knapp 

The Old Church, London 

Thursday | 13 July 2017 | 9pm

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