Taking on the Mantle


This article written in English has been prepared as a slide lecture with 61 slides



The English, with their xenophobic wartime policies, interned all male German refugees in concentration camps, a British invention dating from the Boer war last century. Jewish refugees were often imprisoned together with Nazis; the British failed to recognize the subtle difference between the German oppressors and their victims. Members of my family who managed to escape Germany to England were sent to internment camps as widely dispersed as the Isle of Mann, Australia, and Canada, which was where my father landed. There he acquired a US army uniform. He was wearing the khaki camouflage jacket in Ulm after the war, while searching for his mother, when a woman who had known his family in pre-war times approached him on the street and, holding her hands to her face in amazement, exclaimed: "If your mother could see you now in enemy uniform, she would turn in her grave."
And so stories are told and personal mythologies are created. As a teenager, I adopted the jacket. The Vietnam War was happening in 1968, and perversely, battle fatigues and army apparel became highly fashionable. The symbol of freedom that the jacket had represented to my father later became a popular symbol of oppression; nevertheless, it was unquestionably cool to own or wear one. Why didn't we question the ethics of fashion?

Extract from Taking on the Mantle, Tanya Ury 1999

"Tanya Ury uses text, sound and image in her projects. As opposed to a theory of the form and content of the work of art, however, it is here the intention of the artist that stands in the foreground. The artist conceives herself to be a medium, intermediary between life and art. Her conceptions are expressed, always with great effectiveness, in the free use she makes of resources and possibilities: in the form of photography, with text, video, with sound, and installation, in the form of audiocassette, neon sign or story telling. The sources and roots of her stories are linked to catastrophic historical circumstances. History is not just understood as something that exists in the past. Ury's text Transcending the Ladder forms part of a series, along with other investigations such as Taking on the Mantle 1999 (1) Die Gehängten/Hung Up 1999 (2) and Building Bridges 2001 (3), which, like the selection of her pictures in the text, show that the facts established by research provide the conditions for the fiction that is a work of art."

Doris Frohnapfel 20021

1 “From Work to Word“, editor Doris Frohnapfel, Korridor Verlag ISBN 3-9804354-8-2 (D)