Moving Message 1992

LED display sign with holo­grams of texts, English and German, 1992

The 12, A4 holo­grams of texts have been framed together in steel frames, in three rows of four, 83cm x 78 cm 

The LED displays a moving message with various combi­na­tions of the three words YOU ARE WHY. The dictum YOU ARE WHY, not only poses the most funda­mental of exis­ten­tial ques­tions but is also word-play — the phonetic spelling of the artist’s name URY, in English.

Accom­pa­nying the sign are twelve holo­graphic pages of quota­tions, framed in rows of three by four. The format emulates the Urim and Thummim, an ancient Jewish oracle. Taking issue with the Word’ of the bible and the name of the father, which have been upheld as Law from time immemo­rial, from Moses until Freud, Tanya Ury attempts to locate her own posi­tion within the Judeo/​Christian tradition.

The word racine (root) has taken on a some­what vulgar tint nowa­days, rubbed in ideolo­gies that have racist conno­ta­tions. We must reduce it to ashes and wait for its rebirth. Then we will hear a very beau­tiful word. I thank Jean Racine, I return to my racines with Racine. The signi­fiers of our great writers work on us; the common proper name, the proper common name affects us, as readers, and espe­cially the one whose name it is. We must all deal with the uncon­scious effects of our proper name. We find this aspect of language’s inter­ven­tion in our destiny on the flesh of our imag­i­na­tion. We work on writers whose names are bearers of textual effects. That doesn’t mean I am attracted by authors whose names are at work in the language but simply that there aren’t any names which don’t produce signi­fying effects. Genet constantly puts his name to work in the French language. Entire works were born from his name. There is corneille (crow) in Corneille’s texts: the bird, the rela­tion to eleva­tion, to flying, to a certain type of bird. If we take up Leviticus again, we will find all kinds of crows. Racine must trans­late the effects of roots (racine) in all his texts, espe­cially the roots (racines); since the proper name belongs to the order of roots, it is the lightest and most intan­gible root we have. It roots us, in language and beyond, without our knowing precisely where. One author whose name was not without signi­fying effects – of which he was perfectly well aware – is Kafka. In German, Kafka means chouca = corneille (crow). He too is a bird. He knows it, plays with it, inscribes it. In Wedding Prepa­ra­tions in the Country and Other Posthu­mous Writ­ings and in the Diaries there are several instances of this type of small apho­risms that work on crows1. It’s magnif­i­cent. The crows main­tain that they can destroy the sky.

The crows main­tain that a single crow could destroy the heavens. There is no doubt about that, but it proves nothing against the heavens, for heaven simply means: the impos­si­bility of crows.2

It’s possible or it’s impos­sible, no one can go and verify. Perhaps that’s what going to the root is, going toward the unver­i­fi­able. As for Clarice Lispector’s name, who could invent a name more promising of light or vision?”3

P. 145 – 146, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing”, Hélène Cixous, 1993, Columbia Univer­sity Press /​New York, ISBN 0231076592

1 Franz Kafka, Wedding Prepa­ra­tions in the Country and Other Posthu­mous Prose Writ­ings, tr. C, Kaiser and G. Wilkins (New York: Schocken); Diaries 1919 – 1923, tr. Martin Green­berg (London: Mandarin, 1992)

2 Franz Kafka, Wedding Prepa­ra­tions in the Country, p. 51

3 Clarice Lispector (December 10, 1920 – December 9, 1977) was a Brazilian writer. Acclaimed inter­na­tion­ally for her inno­v­a­tive novels and short stories, she was also a jour­nalist. en​.wikipedia​.org/​wiki/…


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)


1992 – 93 Group exhi­bi­tion, British Telecom New Contem­po­raries on tour, curated by Guy Brett, Derek Jarman & Marina Warner: Orion Newlyn, Corner­house Manchester, Angel Row Nottingham, Orpheus Belfast, ICA London (group) on tour during (GB)
1995 Logo image: YOU ARE WHY in New Femi­nist Crit­i­cism, Katy Deep­well, Manchester Univer­sity Press (GB)
1999 Logo image: YOU ARE WHY in Aufbrüche — Migran­tinnen, Schwarze Frauen und Jüdische Frauen im Kulturellen Diskurs Deutsch­land, Ulrike Helmer Verlag, König­stein 2000 (D)
2004 Logo image: YOU ARE WHY as fron­tispiece for Tanya Ury’s website
2007 (23.3.) On the online Femi­nist Art Base: www​.brook​lyn​mu​seum​.org Logo image: YOU ARE WHY, The Eliz­a­beth A. Sackler Center for Femi­nist Art, The Brooklyn Museum, New York (USA)


Quota­tions in the holo­graphic texts of Moving Message are from:
The Collins English Dictionary
A Dictio­nary of World Mythology, Arthur Cotterell 1979, Guild Publishing, Book Club Asso­ciates, London (GB)
Geness 1, New English Bible
The Newly Born Woman, Cixous and Clément, Manchester Univer­sity Press (in trans­la­tion) 1986, ISBN 0 7190 1909 5
Selected Bibli­og­raphy: Karl Schwartz. Lesser Ury, Berlin 1920 (Jewish Arts)
Als Kranken­schwester im KZ There­sien­stadt, Resi Weglein
The Jewish Almanac, ed.Richard Siegel and Carl Rhiens,
Bantam Books 1980, ISBN 0553012657
Moses and Monotheism, Sigmund Freud, The Newly Born Woman, Cixous and Clément,
Manchester Univer­sity Press 1986, ISBN 0 7190 1909 5

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