Lynn MacRitchie has nearly 20 years experience of making and exhibiting work in video and installation in the UK and abroad. After a lengthy career as an arts writer including 16 years as contemporary art critic of the Financial Times, in 1996 she returned to the studio and has since exhibited regularly at venues in London and abroad.
The Towers of Ilium is a 15 minute video film by artist Lynn MacRitchie. Shot on location by the Thames Estuary in Essex, with a cast of local volunteers, it combines themes from Homer’s Iliad with references to the contemporary phenomenon of gang culture - in this case skinheads - to explore the role of violence as a means of social organisation from ancient times to the present day.
Local stories were combined with passages from the “Iliad” to form the core of the film. The radar tower became the pattern for a model tower which is carried in procession by a group of “warriors”, a re-imagining of the Tilbury Trojans, a notorious skinhead gang formed in Tilbury in the late 1960s. On a specially-prepared site, to a newly-commissioned ska soundtrack, they take part in a series of stylised fights, a reference to the funeral games with which both the Trojans and the Greeks honoured their dead warriors. The character of Achilles appears, commenting on the futility of such combat, which can have only one outcome – death. A second, large-scale model tower is burned, the spectacular blaze intended to suggest that the real radar tower has been destroyed, the destiny Achilles predicts for all such structures and the societies which rely on them. Is it inevitable that the young, present-day boy who appears at the beginning and at the very end of the film must also be destined to experience such conflict?
The film is screened in our Cinema space during Shorelines.