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 (1922.8) 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) livin​garchives​.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

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