Hotel Chelsea - Köln

Video 28 minutes, German/English
Betacam SP, colour, 1995

2005 Trailer 5.30 minutes

Hotel Chelsea - Köln awarded 'Best Confrontational Video' at the VIVA 8 Festival, London 1996

Hotel Chelsea - Köln 1995 Video Stills
Photo series Edition 21 C Prints
Price 450
Euros 42 x 63 cm Edition 7
Singly 25 Euros
Edition 7: 84 x 126 cm
Price 450

Hotel Chelsea - Köln copy videocassette: 25 €

Hotel Chelsea - Köln the script (1995) has been published in Gesellschafstheorie und Postcoloniale Kritik (Social Theory and Post-Colonial Critique), Unrast Verlag ISBN 3-89771-425-6 (D) 2003



The hotel: a place where travellers and/or lovers rendezvous or rest; a visit possibly forgotten in its transience or remembered by its intensity. The title suggests a connection with the USA by its namesake in New York. So, while sleeping in Germany, the visitor may dream away continents and escape to cold-war-distant America. 1995, the year in which, fifty years later, the end of the war and the liberation of the concentration camps are remembered in Europe, ‘Hotel Chelsea – Köln’, the video, filmed site specifically, is an unlikely memorial.

Visual scenarios in this artwork seem to bear little relationship to the narrative – what one sees only indirectly illustrates the voice-over and textual accounts. Alongside the many related incidents of hypocrisy and prejudice in everyday encounters, the spectator is forced to choose between what is seen and what is heard. The images render rituals of courtship and sex where the less conventional gender role-play is a deceptive ploy to further divert attention from the disturbing accounts - the sexual imagery allows no escapist fantasy.

Only some of the texts are concerned directly with the theme of remembrance; these are incorporated into descriptions of contemporary life in Germany; the general atmosphere is of a post: -war, wall, feminist, Modern - malaise. All German texts are repeated in English translation. Repetition is an integral part of the piece, where errors of judgement and bad behaviour are repeated in different situations.

Tanya Ury



“In many ways, drawing on Cavani's Il portiere di notte, Tanya Ury's video artwork Hotel Chelsea – Köln (1995) attempts to formulate these multiple layers within the postwar German-Jewish encounter.1 Hotel Chelsea – Köln assembles its images of a Jewish woman's lovemaking with a transgendered German through empty frames and jump cuts, which conjure a disjointed German-Jewish dyad, while the voiceover describes her encounters with German men and women filled with physical and verbal abuse. In one episode, a woman sexually assaults the female narrator, while insisting that she quite likely would have been a camp overseer; in another, a non-Jewish woman sharing a mirror with the voiceover speaker slips into antisemitic speech. By juxtaposing on-screen lovemaking and off-screen narration, and through lapses in the verbal and visual language, Ury shows the history of violence underlying images of a German-Jewish romance. Ury's piece acknowledges the sexual dimension of human experience, while exposing its historical and cultural conditioning, thus producing the double vision needed for a fuller appreciation of varying positional differences and political responses of women during the Holocaust. If feminist sisterhood indeed exists, it must examine the Greses2 who also loom in the mirror.”

Last paragraph: Double Visions: Queer Femininity and Holocaust Film from Ostatni Etap to Aimée & Jaguar 2007, Cathy S. Gelbin



1 Gelbin, Cathy S. "Die jüdische Thematik im (multi)kulturellen Diskurs der Bundesrepublik." AufBrüche. Kulturelle Produktionen von Migrantinnen, Schwarzen und jüdischen Frauen in Deutschland. Ed. Cathy Gelbin et al. Königstein / Taunus: Ulrike Helmer Verlag, 1999. 87–111.

2 “…the SS overseer Irma Grese may have caused up to thirty deaths per day among the various prisoner categories” P 43 The Beautiful Beast: The Life & Crimes of SS-Aufseherin Irma Grese. Daniel Patrick Brown. Ventura, CA: Golden West Historical Publications, 2004.

Hungarian translation Kristóf Szabó

The video extract is a collation from different parts of the video.