A Name Change

Name change, ongoing since 2021.

(en français)

Paris, May 10, 2021

Dear Friends,

Fifteen years ago, my grandmother and mentor, the potter and artist Rosalie Namer departed the physical plane, leaving a great void in my life. Many of you know how significantly Rosalie influences my art practice and aesthetic orientations, my gender expression and self-styling.

Rosalie was a woman both of and before her time, and while she never quite arrived at an explicitly feminist identification, her approach to life was characterised by self-invention, the breaking of boundaries, and the creation of her own contexts. This included changing her name no less than three times in her life; she famously insisted at 5 years old that she be called Rosalie, not Roslyn, her birth name.

It is through Rosalie’s influence that I have come to perceive the sculptural nature of identity, and the potential that names have in defining one’s reality. The courageous work of my trans and non-binary friends, the experience of my ancestors whose names were misspelled or reinterpreted by Canadian immigration officers, and the generations of name-changing artists and writers also show me what is possible, what I might permit myself.

Through a series of recent transformations in my life, including a deepening of my personal and artistic proximities to Rosalie, I have decided to change my name to more closely align with hers. From today onwards, I have renamed myself Benny Nemer. The spelling of my name deviates slightly from Rosalie’s, but is pronounced in the same way: rhyming with proclaimer in English, éphémère in French, or angenehmer in German.

I would be happy to tell you more of the stories behind Rosalie’s name changes and my own. Perhaps the next time you and I meet. Until then, I hope you will accompany me through this transition.