Video-instal­la­tion with live perfor­mance reading.

A DVD (42 minutes) of the poem layout with an unsyn­chro­nised double voice sound­track for projec­tion was created in 2012 (image format 4:3) – trailer 2 minutes.

Infor­ma­tion
Poems, design
Recording 1 Tanya Ury, Recording 2 Jules Desgoutte
Video edit Mirco Sanftleben
Text editor Amin Farzanefar

The live concert CrissCross/​Anamnesis #10“, by the composer and exper­i­mental live-musi­cian Jules Desgoutte, 13. – 14.10.2012 included recorded passages from Tanya Ury’s poetry series weißer neger and passages from Krýstóf Szabó’s DER VERREIFTE GARTEN BAUCH LIEBSTER ATEM (The Decaying Garden Belly Beloved Breath), Barnes Crossing in Der Wachs­fabrik, Cologne (D)

Like half dimen­sional poems 2009 – 2011 and cement 2011, weißer neger (white nigger) is prose poetry, written in English and German. In style and sense these are concrete poems, a collec­tion of jumbled abstract thoughts, misun­der­stood conver­sa­tion and misread text, which, reflect the daily life and tempera­ment of the Jewish artist. This piece, unlike Tanya Ury’s other concrete poetry will however be presented with several actors and thema­tises Jewish iden­tity and life in Germany today.

In the summer of 2010, after treat­ment for breast cancer I went to a health cure reha­bil­i­ta­tion centre in Schei­degg, Allgau, Germany. On the first evening in the clinic I sat myself down next to a group of women sitting on the terrace, who were talking about the weather. We were expe­ri­encing a heat wave and I told them that I often knew when it would rain because my hair reacted strongly to damp­ness in the air. An elderly woman observed me, and my frizzy, grey hair and declared weißer Neger” (white nigger).

You are what you say and although this woman possibly wasn’t inten­tion­ally ill mannered, her remark remained racist. None of the other women reacted to my outraged facial expres­sion. When the naïve woman asked me from where my parents came (prob­ably expecting me to explain my Mediter­ranean-looking hair with exotic origins) I eluci­dated that my parents came from this part of Germany and were deported to concen­tra­tion camps from Ulm by fascist Germans, and that I’d had quite enough now. I got up, removed myself from the group of women and left for home the following day – it was clear to me that the only thing that I had in common with this group of German women was cancer.

Of course I had already hear the expres­sion Weißer Neger” (white nigger) in connec­tion with a book title; in 2004 Axel Hacke published Der weiße Neger Wumbaba“ (White Nigger Wumbaba) a book, the title of which came about through the misun­der­standing of a line from the song Der Mond ist Aufge­gangen“ (the moon has risen): Der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget /​und aus den Wiesen steiget /​Der weiße Nebel wunderbar.“ (The forest stands black and silent /​and white mist rises wonder­fully /​from the fields.) In his child­hood, Hacke had misun­der­stood the last line (Der weiße Nebel wunderbar) and misin­ter­preted it as Der weiße Neger Wumbaba“ (The white nigger Wumbaba). If one consciously publishes a book with such a ques­tion­able title, this is indis­putably a racist act.

Tanya Ury

State­ment to The White Nigger Wumbaba
The African Confed­er­a­tion of North Germany (ADV-Nord e.V.) would like to take part in the recent contro­ver­sial discus­sion over the inter­pre­ta­tion of title and cover image of Der weiße Neger Wumbaba” (The White Nigger Wumbaba) book series, by Axel Hacke and Michael Sowa, with the following state­ment.

It is for the Feder­a­tion inex­plic­able and totally incom­pre­hen­sible that this title and the image of an African with white face paint have been chosen for these books about the misin­ter­pre­ta­tion of various song texts. The employ­ment of the word nigger” and the continued repro­duc­tion of the cari­ca­ture of an African with bone in hair, thick lips and grass skirt” on the book cover is for us unac­cept­able. This cari­ca­ture is strongly remi­nis­cent of illus­tra­tions from a past that we had hoped was long gone. Without wishing to insin­uate that the authors or the publishers intended to take an explic­itly stereo­typ­ical and racist posi­tion, it is with dismay that the African Confed­er­a­tion of North Germany has noted how a sensi­bility that might have been demon­strated by avoiding the use of racist words and images has not yet taken place in suffi­cient measure. One is mistaken in imag­ining that the nigger” word, which has right­fully been banned from (German) language use in general, reflects only the pain of slavery, which has not yet been over­come by African people, the suppres­sion and the crime of colo­nialism, and what’s more the terror of National Socialism – it also calls to mind the discrim­i­na­tion and dispar­age­ment that black people are still faced with daily. The expres­sion belongs more­over, to the language of xeno­phobes, racists and organ­i­sa­tions displaying contempt for humankind who, by delib­er­ately employing the word nigger” intend to humil­iate and insult people of colour.

The African Confed­er­a­tion of North Germany is actively committed to encour­aging posi­tive processes of inte­gra­tion; it also engages and involves itself when other organ­i­sa­tions and insti­tu­tions take a stand against discrim­i­na­tion, racism and xeno­phobia. It is there­fore even more regretful to expe­ri­ence that this engage­ment is thwarted by the repro­duc­tion of racist stereo­types.

With this posi­tioning the African Confed­er­a­tion of North Germany is not merely concerned with taking a stance on polit­ical correct­ness regarding expres­sions and images, it wishes to culti­vate deeper under­standing; it is about gaining a sensi­tivity as to how insulting and humil­i­ating this kind of racism is for African people, even when the hurt wasn’t intended.

All of us who are active in this asso­ci­a­tion strive towards an atmos­phere of mutual recog­ni­tion and respect for all members of society in Germany and invite people to confront racist images and expres­sions crit­i­cally so that a dialogue may take place at eye-level.

Hanover, March 2010, Abayomi O. Bankole, Chair of the ADV-Nord e. V., Dr. jur. Arnaud Lionel Ngassa Djomo, dele­gate of the ADV-Nord e.V. www​.adv​-nord​.org
(Trans­la­tion from German Tanya Ury)

Tanya Ury’s written poetry may be regarded as concrete” because of its visual design, and uncon­ven­tional aural effect when spoken — the texts thereby gain in dimen­sion beyond accepted meaning.

2011, Ury created visual images of 17 concrete poems, to be presented online and as print versions (23.532.45 cm), digital image processing Mirco Sanftleben, two of these poems being femi­ninity and femi­nini­a­tion, the rest being part of the series cement, weißer neger (white nigger), concrete party & oral call, cross word, toned poems, two toned, pommes, taste of space, leeres archiv and since 2011 Tanya Ury recorded 6 of the more tradi­tional poems (toned poems: 5.54 minutes) to be found in the poetry series, together with Kasander Nilist (double bass, sound and mix), also for the June edition online of Imag­i­na­tions – Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, Univer­sity of Alberta (CA) with Ury as featured artist.
www​.csj​.ualberta​.ca/im…

***

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)

Presen­ta­tion

2012 (11.6) Tanya Ury is the featured artist with new works in the June edition online of Imag­i­na­tions: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, Univer­sity of Alberta, Canada, with Videos: Inti­macy, cement & dark room; a series of 17 concrete poems, the photo­graph Alibi­jude, Selec­tion from the Who’s Boss series, and 8 photos from Soul Brothers & Sisters, also 3 photos of Occupy in Stras­bourg, from the Fading into the Fore­ground series; further­more 5 toned poems (sounds, music and sound mix Kasander Nilist) and a peer review inter­view (text and Skype video) with Claude Desmarais, (CA)
www​.csj​.ualberta​.ca/im…

2012 (13. – 14.10) The live concert CrissCross/​Anamnesis #10“ by the composer and exper­i­mental live-musi­cian Jules Desgoutte, includes recorded passages from Tanya Ury’s poetry series weißer neger (white nigger) and passages from Krýstóf Szabó’s DER VERREIFTE GARTEN BAUCH LIEBSTER ATEM (The Decaying Garden Belly Beloved Breath), Sat., 13. October 8 pm & Sun., 14. Oktober 6 pm, Barnes Crossing in Der Wachs­fabrik, Cologne (D)

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