Video-performance (English/German) 2:05 hours and short version 16 minutes vimeo.com/7662688
(Adobe flash player update free under Google)
Price & insurance value 100 Euros
Fury is a delegated performance video, as part of Tanja Ostojic’s project Misplaced Women?, about the loss of the Ury/Unger family archive with the collapse of the Historical Archives in Cologne, on 3rd March 2009, and, filmed on 3rd October, German Re-unification Day, on the twentieth anniversary of re-unification.
Archive – a collection of works:
With Fury Tanya Ury takes on the role of one of the Three Furies, also known as the Erinnyes, or Eumenides, the so-called Avenging Goddesses of the Antique, who avenged heavy crimes. She carries a suitcase full of scripts and articles written by her grandfather, Alfred H. Unger, which had mistakenly been delivered to her home address and not the City Archives ten years ago, and which she kept. At the “hole”, the location where the Cologne City Archives once stood, she reads one of these articles about Cologne, from 1948.
“Tisiphone, Alecto, and Megaera, the Erinnyes or Furies, live in Erebus, and are older than Zeus or any of the other Olympians. Their task is to hear complaints brought by mortals against (…) householders or city councils to suppliants — and to punish such crimes by hounding the culprits relentlessly, without rest or pause, from city to city and from country to country. These Erinnyes are crones, with snakes for hair, dogs’ heads, coal black bodies, bats’ wings, and bloodshot eyes. In their hands they carry brass-studded scourges, and their victims die in torment. It is unwise to mention them by name in conversation; hence they are usually styled the Eumenides, which means ‘The Kindly Ones’…“1
In 1999, a year after the death of her mother Sylvia in London, and after long consideration, and family discussion, in which the London Leo Baeck Institute, a Jewish archive, was also thought to be an appropriate location to house the personal effects of the Ury/Unger archive, Tanya Ury entrusted the family archive to the Historical Archives in Cologne, Germany, where she has been living since 1993 and which was the hometown for many family members of previous generations; it was to be a gesture of reconciliation and trust towards Germany, to return these documents, letters, photographs and other objects from several generations of this German-Jewish family of artists and business people, who had experienced persecution, annihilation or exile at the hands of the Nazis.
The fall of the Historical Archives in Cologne still remains unexplained but is probably due to earth movement resulting from underground building works in the vicinity of the new North-South-Tramline. The collapse awakens memories of a monumental historical catastrophe.
During the Alexandrian War of 48 BC, 40,000 book scrolls were burned, when, as is generally believed, Julius Caesar started a fire at sea that accidentally spread to the docks and library. The comparison is not without good reason, for the Library of Alexandria was the largest of the ancient world and the Cologne City Historical Archive before its collapse was considered to be the largest communal archive north of the Alps, with a thousand year history. One wonders what priorities came into play in this city of culture and commerce, when such an important historical collection of archival material was put in jeopardy.
1 P. 121, The Greek Myths, Robert Graves, The Folio Society, London MCMXCVI Thirteenth printing (two volumes) 2002
“Davka: Jewish Artists in Germany – Tanya Ury
They are living amongst us — to a greater extent unnoticed by the Jewish public, in as far as they are defined by an official, Jewish, cultural and reporting press: Jewish artists, who have put up their tents in Germany to creatively generate a dialogue between art and life-stories and to work against cultural ossification. For, as a result of the omnipresent politically correct word rituals and mock battles carried out specifically by Jewish representatives and their helpers, a constructive debate on Jews and society, Jewish artists and politics, is in effect prevented. By placing Jewish and Israel-related themes in dialogue with political questioning, Tanya Ury demonstrates that a different approach is possible. The artist, who was born 1951 in London, who amongst other things, is a relation of Lesser Ury, moved to Cologne in 1993, a place where several of her ancestors had been active. She has enriched the cultural life of the Rhine capital. In 1998, after the death of her mother Sylvia, neé Unger, she decided, what’s more, to leave the family estate of several generations, to the Cologne City Archives. Whether giving and taking are here to be perceived in any kind of decent ratio is doubtful, for the Cathedral City and its representatives have proved to be miserable administrators as far as the Ury and other Jewish families are concerned, who with absolute faith left their estates to the City of Cologne: it is a bitter irony that this inheritance, including documents belonging to her grandfather have, through the loss of the Historical City Archives, gone missing — Alfred H. Unger had been actively involved in the “German Pen in Exile” together with Thomas Mann. The damaging after-effects were, not only massive mistakes made during the underground train construction but also, above all, an indifference demonstrated by the Cologne cliques’ sedated City managers. With the burial of Jewish estates, Nazi obliteration manoeuvres seem to have been carried out; Tanya Ury recognises in this the persistent and continual invisible making of a Jewish presence, of the Jewish body. In her projects she reflects upon the disappearance of this Jewish presence and the resistance to the memory of the victims, with irony and a consistency that in every way gets under the spectator’s skin…”
Article extract: artist’s portrait by Hanna Rheinz in “Der Semit – Unabhängige Jüdische Periodical” (The Semite – Independent Jewish Newspaper) No. 6, December 2009 – January 2010 edition, ISSN 1869 – 0416 (D). Translation from German T.U.
2009 (19.11) Fury, a delegated performance video (filmed 3.10) on the collapse of the Historical Archives in Cologne for Tanja Ostojic’s project “Misplaced Women”, online at White Box during “Performa”, The Third Biennial of New Visual Art Performance, New York City (1 – 22.11.2009) (USA) Link to long & short version: vimeo.com (Adobe flash player update free under google)
2010 (19−22.8) Installation of the Video-Performance Fury, solo exhibition opening 7pm, 19th August, at kjubh KUNSTVEREIN (Art Centre), Dassel Strasse 75, Cologne (D)
2011 (18.3. – 26.6) Installation of the Video-Performance Fury, group exhibition “Kunst und Gedenken. Kölner Künstler/innen mit Arbeiten zur Auseinandersetzung mit dem Nationalsozialismus” (Art and Remembering. Cologne Artists with Art concerning National Socialism), opening: 17th March, EL-DE-Haus, National Socialist Documentation Centre, Cologne (D)
2011 (2.8.) Presentation of Tanya Ury’s Video-Performance Fury, 8 pm, curator Jürgen Stollhans, Fritz-Schramma-Halle, Auenweg 173 GEB 6, 51063, Cologne (D) fritzschrammahalle.wor…
2012 (13.2) Presentation of Tanya Ury’s Video-Performance Fury, “out of the blue- plötzlich wird alles anders “, 6.15 pm, Director’s Lounge, Naherholung Sternchen, Berolinastraße 7, 10178, Berlin (D)
2015 (29.4.) Tanya Ury’s power point presentation Personal Affects – Going into the Archive, featuring extracts from the videos Fury and archive burn out with a discussion, is being held at 17:00 – 18.30 at the invitation by Dr. Dora Osborne’s at Princess Dashkova Centre, 14 Buccleuch Place, University of Edinburgh EH8 9LN, Edinburgh (GB)
2018 (spring) Personal Affects – Going into the Archive (short paper) with images, a still from Fury, the video-performance 2009 and a photo (Tanya Ury) 2009 of voluntary workers undertaking first aid in restoring damaged documents, in the temporary storage spaces of The Historical Archive of the City of Cologne at Porz, after the Archive buildings had collapsed — published (in English) in the Bet Debora Journal IV, Hentrich & Hentrich Verlag Berlin (D)
2018 (11. – 12.4.) Tanya Ury presents Personal Affects – Going into the Archive (short version), a power point presentation and a short version of the Video-Performance Fury (2009), on 13th April (seminar 10 – 5pm) as keynote speaker at “To Be Archived”, the Living Archives final event, curated by Temi Odumoso of Malmö University, at Malmö Konstmuseum, Malmöhusvägen 6, Malmö (SE) livingarchives.mah.se/…
Performance: Tanya Ury
Translation German/English: Tanya Ury
Translation English/German: Tanya Ury and Amin Farzanefar
Camera: Sigrid Hombach
Avid edit: Mirco Sanftleben, Pixel2motion
Publications & Press
2011 (17.3.) Schwierige Deutschstunde (Difficult German Lessons) — „Kunst und Gedenken“ (Art and Remembering): Vielschichtige Schau im NS-Dokumentationszentrum (Multi-Layerd Show in the National Socialist Documentation Centre), Katharina Hamacher, Kölnische Rundschau (newspaper), Cologne (D)
2011 (17.3.) Kölner Künstler setzen sich mit dem Nationalsozialismus auseinander (Cologne Artists Deal with National Socialism), Domstadt Kultur Kunststadt Köln www.koeln.de (D)
2011 (17.3.) „Es war, als wäre meine Familie ein zweite Mal ausgerottet worden“ (It was as though my family were wiped out a second time), report‑k.de, Kölns Internetzeitung
2011 (17.3.) „Tanya Ury brachte einen Koffer nach Köln (Tanya Ury brought a suitcase to Cologne), Köln Nachrichten – Das Online-Nachrichtenmagazin für Köln (Cologne’s online News Magazine (D)
2014 Osborne, D. (2014), ‘“Alas, alas. House, oh house!”: The collapse of the Cologne City Archive’, Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, 1: 3, pp. 395 – 416, doi: 10.1386/jucs.1.3.395_1, including a critique of Ury’s Archive — Fury and archive burn out