A photograph sealed under plexiglass and mounted, height 64 cm x width 85 cm (edition of 7)
(Edition of 7: height 32 cm x width 42,5 cm)
Insurance value 2,000 Euros
Concept Tanya Ury
Camera David Janecek
Digital image processing Claudia Stasch
Double Portraits — a collection of works:
- Hermes Insensed 2000 – 2001
- Franco and Elke J. 2002
- lesser is me more or less 2003
- Your Rules 2004
- or else 2007
- Du bist Einstein 2007
- doo bee doo 2007
- Artistic freedom 2013
or else features the artist Tanya Ury to the left of the picture, sitting in three-quarter view. Digitally incorporated into the photograph and facing her to the right, is the German-Jewish author Else Sara Ury (1877−1943). Tanya dresses and poses similarly to Else and mimics her facial expression. Else and Tanya share the same surname. Tanya Ury’s grandmother Hedwig Ury (neé Ullmann), like Else Ury, also perished in Auschwitz, but a year later in 1944.
or else is the consequence of lesser is me more or less 2003, Tanya Ury’s photographic portrait of herself and the early 20th Century German painter Lesser Ury.
Else Ury was a best-seller author of German children’s books including “Nesthäkchen” (baby of the family — Germans call a spoiled child or family pet a Nesthäkchen), a series of 10, which follow the Christian protagonist Annemarie Braun’s life from infancy to old age and grandchildren. Her books are still available in German bookshops, albeit in shortened and modern-language form; they were directed at a female readership, expounding a traditional view of the bourgeois family and the woman’s role.
Her book “Nästhäkchen und der Weltkrieg” (Nästhäckchen and the World War) was however problematic in that it glorified war. To “Jugend voraus!” (Youth advance!) Else Ury’s last published book of 1933, Marianne Brentzel moreover states:
“Else Ury was an apolitical, conservative, bourgeois, German woman, who observed the massive suffering of the unemployed with great human interest but with the slipstream of mass enthrallment for Hitler, saw a possible solution for the country’s deep crisis. In 1933 she shut her eyes to the political reality, as she had done all her life, regarding all matters in the public eye. She once again tried to consecrate the status of the idealised, German family.”
Marianne Brentzel: Nesthäkchen kommt ins KZ, S. 154
(Translation from German T.U.)
Although half of all German women have read her stories (over 7 million copies were sold altogether), the fact of her murder was only publicised in Germany 50 years later; even the TV Xmas series of 1983 that was often repeated in Germany, suppressed this information.
Post Script 2008
While researching for this work I discovered the German Wikipedia site; the first line read:
“Else Ury (* 1. November 1877 in Berlin; † 13. Januar 1943 im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz)“
I contacted Wikipedia to say how inappropriate the cross symbol as an appendage to Else Ury’s death date was — to employ the cross, a Christian symbol, in the case of a murdered Jewish women is a double faux pas. I suggested the expression “date of death” would be more suitable in this case.
Wikipedia replied that a debate regarding which symbol to utilise when denoting a person’s death had taken place online a couple of years previously; a consensus had been found and it was agreed that the cross glyph would be employed as a format on all Wikipedia web pages. The matter was now closed.
In the light of their decision I was surprised to discover the following explanation on the English-speaking Wikipedia:
“Since it (the cross typographical symbol) also represents the Christian cross, in certain predominantly Christian regions, the mark is used in a text before or after the name of a deceased person or the date of death, as in Christian grave headstones. For this reason, it should not be used as a footnote mark next to the name of a living person. The religious connotations of the symbol can also make this usage inappropriate for persons from non-Christian cultures.”
On German Wikipedia, descriptions of the use of the symbol are not augmented with the statement vis-à-vis religious sensibilities.
Ury has also created other artworks that might be considered visual poetry. Moving Message 1992, incorporates an LED sign displaying the words: you are why; Sonata in Sea 1999 – 2000 is a photo series combined with poetry and wrestlewithyourangel 2001, is a neon sign produced together with the neon sign neonazi 2001; the title of a double photo portrait lesser is me more or less 2003 plays on the name of the German Post-Impressionist Lesser Ury, as does the title of a further double portrait or else 2007, which refers to the German writer Else Ury. The title of a third photo-portrait Beelzebularin 2005 (in the Promised Land series) reveals itself to be an anagram of the biblical Bezalel Ben Uri. half dimensional — semi detached 2010, combines the first of the half dimensional poems with the photograph semi detached.
concrete – a collection of works (including poetry series)
- femininity – femininiation 2011
- Moving Message 1992
- Word-fore-play – Recipe for Love 1995
- Sonata in Sea 1999 – 2000
- wish 2000
- wrestlewithyourangel 2001
- neonazi 2001
- Poker Poems 2003
- elle la poésie 2003
- lesser is me more or less 2003
- Promised Land – a collection of works 2005
- Mid Summer 2005
- Un 2006
- or else 2007
- half dimensional poems 2009 – 2011
- half dimensional – semi detached 2010
- cement 2011
- on a mat appear 2011 -
- Lost Poems 2011
- weißer neger (white nigger) 2011
- informed 1.3.2011
- concrete party 2011
- oral call 2011
- cross word 2011 – 2012
- toned poems 2011 – 2012
- two toned 2012
- pommes 2012
- taste of space 2012 – 2013
- leeres archiv (empty archive) 2013
- archive burn out 2011 – 2014
- hero of your own saga 2013 – 2014
- magical reality 2014 – 2015
2007 (11.3. – 9.4.) Connected, Group exhibition, opening 12 am, Jewish Cultural Days, Altes Museum im BIS-Zentrum (Old Museum in the BIS Centre), Moenchengladbach (D)
2007 (15.7. – 26.8.) Kunstverein Rosenheim Jahresausstellung (yearly exhibition of the Rosenheim Art Centre), opening 14th July, Städtische Galerie (City Gallery), Rosenheim (D)
The Power of Femininity – Hubertus Wunschik has assembled an enormous range of art for a group exhibition of international artists in the Alten Museum (Old Museum). The exhibition “Connected” combines the works of Jewish and non-Jewish provenance.
By Dirk Richerdt – Saturday 10th March 2007 RHEINISCHE POST
“A glance directly inside the entrance to the bourgeois town house falls on the photo montages of Tanya Ury. The 55 year-old Jewish artist, born in London and living in Cologne since 1993, has created a series of dialogic self-portraits: one sees Ury together with antecedents, including the German impressionist painter Lesser Ury and the German Jewish writer Else Sara Ury. And then Albert Einstein turns up. Although she is not related to the scientist, Tanya Ury’s picture of the pipe-smoking researcher together with the artist, holding a (pipe) in the same manner, has a bizarre aura.
A humorous edge flashes up directly with the seriously intended representation of personal history. Tanya Ury’s photos sealed under plexiglass therefore lend the exhibition a certain relief from earnest themes…”
“…Tanya Ury’s photographs „Du bist Einstein“ and „or else“ insistently but at the same time with humour concern themselves with questions of identity. With these, she positions recreated photographs next to the originals…”
A persuasive yes to art – A tour in the Städtischen Galerie (City Gallery) through the Jahresausstellung des Kunstvereins Rosenheim (Rosenheim Art Centre’s Yearly Exhibition), by Raimund Feichtner (with an image of “Du bist Einstein“, 23.4.2007 Kultur in der Region (Culture in the Region), Verlagshaus (Publishing House) Rosenheim (D)
(Translation from German T.U.)