Compass Festival commissions FOUR LEGS GOOD



Jack Tan

Leeds Town Hall
Corridor installation 17 – 24 November
Day of live hearings 24 November

1pm – Snoopy the Jack Russell charged with two counts: sheep worrying and aggravated sheep worrying contrary to the Protection Of Livestock (Worrying) Act 2013.

3pm – Crayfish murder appeal, a challenge to R v Dudley and Stephens (1884) 14 QBD 273.

5pm – Marla the Staffie charged with 1 count of ‘being a dangerous dog’ under the Crimes By Animals Act 1928.

Commissioned by Compass Festival

Four Legs Good is a contemporary revival of the medieval animal trials which took place in Britain and throughout Europe, where animals who had been accused of committing crimes were brought to court, provided defence counsel and prosecuted in full hearings before a judge.

For Compass 2018, artist Jack Tan will reimagine Leeds Town Hall as the site of a fictional Department of Animal Justice and stage a series of live ‘moot’ animal trials where practising barristers will argue claims brought by or against animal clients, before a judge and jury at the old Victorian courtroom in Leeds Town Hall.

Exploring the legal framework which surrounds humans, animals and our shared environment, the work invites us to reconsider our understanding of the position of humans in relation to animals and the environment. Leeds Town Hall users will encounter what appears to be a working Animal Court evidenced by signage, court leaflets, legal heritage displays and a court website. This culminates in a day of live hearings of animals belonging to and nominated by local animal charities and organisations, where the animals will also be bringing cases of their own against humans.

Compass 2018 runs 16 – 25 November 2018 throughout Leeds.


Photos: Lizzie Coombes

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Prancing Poodles and Preposterous Pugs – Live Art and other animals @ LADA


An evening about, with, and for Live Art and animals with the artists Shaun Caton, Jack Tan, Angela Bartram and Sibylle Peters.

Date: 16 May 2018
Time: 19:00
Venue: Live Art Development Agency
Address: The Garrett Centre, 117A Mansford Street, Bethnal Green, London E2 6LX
Tickets: Free, but please reserve a place

Jack Tan’s Four Legs Good is a live revival of the medieval animal trials, where animals who had committed some offence were charged in court, prosecuted and defended by barristers, and sentenced in full hearings before a judge. In advance of the first sitting of the Animal Court at Compass Festival 2018 in Leeds, Jack will give a presentation about the Animal Court and offer advice to all dogs present who may have fallen foul of the law on how to bring or defend a case.

Pets, particularly dogs, are very welcome, Snacks and drinks for all creatures will be served.

Check the Live Art Development Agency website for full details of all three talks:

[Image from Legal Cheek]

A Conversation on Personhood: Animals, Law and Performance


This interdisciplinary round-table conversation will question the status of animals in law and critique contemporary understandings of legal personhood.

All welcome. This is a free event, though registration is required.

The Centre for Law and Social Justice are delighted to host artist-in-residence Jack Tan. During his stay we will be hosting a roundtable on animals and personhood to facilitate dialogue across disciplines.

The conversation will feed into Jack’s upcoming performance and art instillation commissioned by the Compass Festival Leedswhere he will revive the medieval animal trials. Jack will appropriate Leeds Town Hall as the site of a fictional Department of Animal Justice, a branch of the Ministry of Justice. Town Hall users will encounter what appears to be a working Animal Court evidenced by signage, information leaflets, posters, court heritage displays, an animal court website, etc. This will culminate in a day of live hearings of ‘naughty animals’ belonging to and nominated by local animal charities, farms and breeders. The accused animals will be prosecuted and defended by barristers, and before a Judge or Recorder according to specially adapted.

Location Details

Charles Thackrah SR 5 (1.05)
University of Leeds

Please use postcode LS6 1AN for sat navs.

All welcome. This is a free event, though registration is required.



Various artists, activists and lawyers
Arrive 7.30pm prompt for bag checks
Saturday 6 January 2018
Arebyte, 7 Botanic Square, London City Island, E14 0LG
Replicating the procedures of courtroom participation, LAW IN THE LIMELIGHT is a new collaborative performance considering the performativity of justice. Since September 2017, artists, activists and lawyers have been meeting monthly in Richard Wentworth’s CONCERTINA installation at Arebyte to explore the relationship between performance and law in discussion workshops facilitated by Jack Tan, as part of Live Art Development Agency – LADA‘s artist-led education programme DIY17. This performance of LAW IN THE LIMELIGHT draws out some of the salient points from the workshops with a particular focus on authenticity, judgment and objecthood in court with the aim of providing insight into the aesthetic dimensions of law and power.
Image: Chloe Cooper, collaged from her illustrations and architectural drawings by Apparata.