The Danaids

Carpenter & Ury 2007

Perfor­mance docu­mented on video, English, 1 hour
Trailer: 4 minutes 50 seconds

A DVD compi­la­tion of all the Avant-Garde Dating” trailers with German subti­tles, 40 minutes was put together 2009

2007 (3.10) The Danaids is a collab­o­ra­tive work by Carpenter and Ury, conceived and performed during the Avant-Garde Dating” week, 27.9. – 3.10.2007, for Art Forum, The New Life Shop Art Gallery, Choriner Strasse 85, Berlin (D)

Avant-Garde Dating was a Wooloo concept by the artists/​curators Sixten Kai Nielsen & Martin Rosen­gaard www.AvantgardeDating.c…

2007 (30.11. – 11.1.2008) Included in the exhi­bi­tion In Pursuit: Art on Dating” at the ISE Cultural Foun­da­tion Gallery, New York (USA) is a computer repre­sen­ta­tion with all video trailers from the week’s resi­dency in the New Life Shop Art Gallery, Berlin (D) www​.isefoun​da​tion​.org

An article by Simon Hoegs­berg on Tanya Ury’s and Laurel Jay Carpenter’s part­ner­ship during the Avant-Garde Dating“ week (27.9. – 3.10.2007) has been presented in the Danish maga­zine Samvirke”, March edition 2008. There is an English trans­la­tion on Hoegsberg’s website: www​.simon​hoegs​berg​.com

www​.simon​hoegs​berg​.com — article as PDF

Avant-Garde-Dating – a collec­tion of works:

Laurel Jay Carpenter approached Tanya Ury with the idea of the Danaids; in Greek mythology they are the 50 daugh­ters of King Danaus whom he called upon to collec­tively murder their husbands (also their cousins) on their enforced wedding night; their father provided the Danaids with:

…ruby tipped poisoned pins to stick into their hearts. All of the Danaids did so (except one, who fell in love with her husband and eloped. She went to Elysium after her death. Punish­ment: The Danaids are forced to carry water in sieves from the Lethe to a bathtub which, when full (which it will never be) is to be used to cleanse their sins.” www​.angelfire​.com

Tanya Ury


Two women sit at adja­cent sides of small square-shaped table. One of them starts to sew a very large circle very slowly with small, red, simple hand stitching onto a white cloth that covers the table. The cloth was in fact, a sheet that Danish photog­ra­pher and jour­nalist Simon Hoegs­berg gave the performers to use on their last day of the week’s residency.

After a short while the second performing woman starts unpicking the work of the first, pulling her chair up closer, while the other pulls her chair away, to move on. When the first woman reaches the quarter-circle, the performers exchange the roles of sewer and unpicker. This continues until the circle is completed. Very few words are exchanged during the hour-long action.

The circle motif suggests cycles and phases of a clock, but also of the menstrual. Further­more implied are the changes of gener­a­tions, and The Change” but also quite simply a sewing circle.

Wider allu­sions of the perfor­mance are to global sweat­shops, where workers, mostly women, are treated as slaves and paid well below accept­able standards.

Walmart and Nike are two of the largest corpo­rate spon­sors of sweat­shop labor, but claim that they have safe­guards in place to avoid using the worst sweat­shops. Disney has also employed sweat­shops to produce much of their clothing and toys, but their use has not been as well publi­cized as the cases of Nike, Walmart, or Kathie Lee Gifford. In the book Disney; the Mouse Betrayed”; a chapter shows deal­ings with China, Vietnam, Haiti, but espe­cially targets Disney’s rela­tion­ship with the mili­tary junta of Burma, of which it works hard to keep quiet given Burma’s huge unpop­u­larity in the inter­na­tional commu­nity. en​.wikipedia​.org/​wiki/…

In Carpenter’s and Ury’s email exchange over several months before their meeting in Berlin, the two artists discov­ered that they had common themes — images of them both creating art works were taped to the New Life Shop Art Gallery walls: Laurel at the machine sewing her impos­sibly long red dress (combining many donated red dresses sewn together) for the perfor­mances Red Woman and Red Crest1 — Tanya like­wise machine-sewing small plastic bags containing her hair for Whos Boss: Hair Shirt. The Danaids also conjures up Ury’s video/​performance Röslein Sprach… in which she sews the word BOSS” into the palm of her left hand, bringing to mind the 150 persons who were engaged in forced labour to produce Nazi uniforms, from 1940 onwards until the end of the war, by the orig­inal Hugo Boss company.

Tanya Ury

1 Red Crest 2003 Horse­barn Hill, Storrs, CT, U.S.A. A woman appears at the top of the glorious, green crest. The sky is perfect blue. She is dressed in red. The woman descends the hill, each step revealing more of her dress, unfurling behind like a trailing artery. Look, the dress is impos­sibly long, stitched from a hundred others offered gener­ously. The dress is heavy; it leaves a rut in the lush grass. The work is hard; the woman is tired and strained. Some think she needs help. Others do not. Some are worried she is suffering. Two approach the dress, help lift its weight, and join the woman on her walk. Many follow, mostly chil­dren, to see the dress up close and perhaps help carry it a way. With more help, more fanfare than expected, the woman reaches her desti­na­tion, and disap­pears into the adja­cent woods. Soon after, twilight falls. Red Crest is site-specific and cannot be performed again. The dress may instead travel and be presented in the form of Red Woman. www.i‑

The Danaids, 3rd October, trailer 4 minutes 50 seconds


2007 (3.10.) Live perfor­mance with Tanya Ury and Laurel Jay Carpenter, during the Avant-Garde Dating” week, 27.9. – 3.10.2007, for Art Forum, The New Life Shop Art Gallery, Choriner Strasse 85, Berlin (D)

2009 (25. – 26.3) March 25th, 6 p.m. SSC 026: video and power point presen­ta­tion (short version): Avant Garde Dating and Avant-Garde Dating the video, guest lecturer, Depart­ment of Crit­ical Studies (German), Faculty of Creative and Crit­ical Studies, Univer­sity of British Columbia, Okanagan (CAN)



press as PDF


Perfor­mance Artists: Laurel Jay Carpenter, Tanya Ury
Camera & edit of trailers: Menachem Roth
Camera 2: Martin Rosen­gaard
Text infor­ma­tion: Tanya Ury
Subti­tles translation: Tanya Ury, Amin Farzanefar
Avid edit of DVD trailer compilation: Rainer Nelissen
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