For over 700 years there was a site of execution at Tyburn in London. Here those who fell foul of political, religious and judicial reforms enacted by the state were executed for public entertainment and instruction. A study of those executed at Tyburn charts a history of the UK, illustrating the twists and turns of monarchical and political whimsy, church and state, and the birth of capitalism.
At our current moment of enforced austerity and social reform, Tyburnia explores the parallels between contemporary and historical notions of crime in relation to business and property, the spectacular nature of punishment, and the state's use of the body as a site for political control.
James Holcombe - The Film & Performance
Shooting and projecting on 8mm and 16mm film, James Holcombe gained access to numerous artifacts 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.
Using hand processing and historic chemical techniques the scenes forming Tyburnia bring forth a film that is both visually and thematically engrossing, demonstrating how, despite the gallows having long since vanished, we still stand in the shadow of it's punitive ideology.
During the Tyburnia Tour 2017 James will be utilising 6 film projectors, allowing for an expanded performance of the film, where he physically manipulated and distorts, and occassionally destroys the film live to create unique performances in each location.
The Sound Track - DRO & Lisa Knapp
Tyburnia has provided an opportunity to breath life back into some very peculiar and rare songs. Bringing to bare their gritty, rough hewn interpretations and dextrous multi-instrumentalism, the DRO have created a sound track that features songs that were composed by or for those condemned to 'dance the Tyburn jig', bringing a new understanding to the broadside ballads that have become a staple of folk music, but here presented in close association to their original context.
Alongside ballads of the condemned the DRO have undertaken the great challenge of crafting contemporary versions of long forgotten songs in the luridly descriptive language of thieves cant.
For the 2017 tour we will be collaborating with award winning multi-instrumentalist and singer Lisa Knapp. Lisa featured in sampled form in the original live soundtrack with her vicious rendition of "A Defence of Woman", and DRO have been keen to collaborate with her since.
We are thrilled to be working with her on the entire live soundtrack for this tour.
From 2015 to 2017 DRO worked extensively with film maker James Holcombe in the creation of a live performance soundtrack to his film work Tyburnia. The work centres aroud the site and events of the Tyburn gallows, exploring the resonances that the ideologies of public execution still have in todays political and cultural landscape.
The collaboration resulted in two realisations of the work being toured. The first in 2016 via digital projection with live musical performance and the second in 2017 with live film projection and manipulation and live musical performance. For the second tour Lisa Knapp joined the DRO in the performance of the soundtrack.
In total the film recieved 28 performances across the UK, and also resulted in DRO recording and publishing the soundtrack to the work.