shower proof

A photo­graph H 66 x B 77 (Edition 7), offset print lami­nated and lami­nated on the rear side with 3mm Dibond


Concept and photog­raphy: Tanya Ury

Digital image processing: Ingolf Pink

shower proof is an artist’s impres­sion of the Hair Shirt Army in the vault of EL-DE-Haus, the Nazi Docu­men­ta­tion Centre, Cologne (D), produced before the instal­la­tion was actu­ally presented from 13th February to 21st April 2014. This work is part of a series on the orig­inal Hugo Boss fashion company that employed forced labour in their produc­tion of Nazi uniforms during WW2.


A plastic rain­coat that doesn’t let the rain in is shower proof; the func­tion of a good shower curtain is also to keep the wet in. The image shower proof is a digital photo­graphic collage of 19 army great­coats, made up of little plastic bags containing date labels and Tanya Ury’s hair from natural fallout that she has collected over a period of 20 years. Implied in the title’s word­play however, is the protec­tion from a concen­tra­tion camp shower emit­ting gas, not water, which these or any other coats would never have been able to provide; and the proof was in the shower. shower proof is a visual oxymoron.


The pyramid” shape design of coats that appear to rise up towards the ceiling in the instal­la­tion Hair Shirt Army and the image shower proof, was instilled as a visu­alised repre­sen­ta­tion of what concen­tra­tion camp func­tionaries were met with after a gassing took place in the gas chambers:

The concen­tra­tion camps were extra­or­di­narily effi­cient death facto­ries. One witness described a typical day of exter­mi­na­tion in the gas cham­bers of Auschwitz:

Outside (…) the men on night-shift were handling a convoy of Jews, some 3,000 men, women and chil­dren, who had been led from their train into the hall 200 yards long and promi­nently labeled in various languages, Baths and Disin­fecting Room.’ Here they had been told to strip, super­vised by the S.S. and men of the Sonderkom­mando. They were then led into a second hall, where the S.S. and Sonderkom­mando left them. Mean­while, vans painted with the insignia of the Red Cross had brought up supplies of Cyclon B crys­tals. The 3,000 were then sealed in and gassed.

Twenty minutes later the patented mechan­ical venti­la­tors were turned on to dispel the remaining fumes. Men of the Sonderkom­mando, wearing gas masks and rubber boots, entered the gas chamber. They found the naked bodies piled in a pyramid that revealed the last collec­tive struggle of the dying to reach clean air near the ceiling; the weakest lay crushed at the bottom while the strongest bestrode the rest at the top. The strug­gling mass, stilled only by death, lay now inert like some fearful monu­ment to the memory of their suffering. The gas had risen slowly from the floor, forcing the pris­oners to climb on each other’s bodies in a ruth­less endeavour to snatch the last remaining lung­fulls of clean air. The corpses were fouled, and the masked men washed them down with hoses before the labour of sepa­rating and trans­porting the entwined bodies could begin. They were dragged to the eleva­tors, lowered to the crema­toria, their gold teeth removed with pliers and thrown into buckets filled with acid, and the women’s hair shaved from their heads. The dese­crated dead were then loaded in batches of three on carts of sheet metal and fed auto­mat­i­cally into one of the fifteen ovens with which each crema­to­rium was equipped. A single crema­to­rium consumed 45 bodies every 20 minutes; the capacity of destruc­tion at Auschwitz was little short of 200 bodies an hour… The ashes were removed and spilled into the swift tide of the river Vistula, a mile or so away. The valu­ables – clothes, jewels, gold and hair – were sent to Germany…1

1 Leo Kuper, Geno­cide: its Polit­ical Use in the Twen­tieth Century 133 – 34 (1981), citing Milos Nyiszli, Auschwitz 1960: Ch. VII. A similar harrowing report from Hoess, the director of the Auschwitz camp, can be found at IMT Docs, supra note 231, Vol XI, tran­script pgs 416 – 417 on P 149 – 49 War Crimes Against Women: Pros­e­cu­tion in Inter­na­tional War Crimes Tribunals by Kelly Dawn Askin books​.google​.de/…

Who’s Boss — a collec­tion of works:


2014 (February/​March) Flyer and poster for Who’s Boss: Hair Shirt Army in the Nazi Docu­men­ta­tion Centre, Cologne (D)

2014 (26.2. – 26.3.) Tanya Ury: Who’s Boss – Hair Shirt Army” by Barbara Hess, in Stadtrevue (City Revue)

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