2009, video, 19 min. 45 sec.
With vocal work by Etty Ben-Zaken
2008, video, 5 min. 45 sec.
The name given to us when we are born is closely connected to our identity. However, even this immaterial continuity cannot be taken for granted when it comes to migration from one geographical and cultural context to another.
›When I came to see the school nurse, she asked me what my name was, and I said Wilhelmina. And she said: ‘What kind of name is this?’ ‘So I will be Zeeva,’ I said, ‘because my grandpa’s name was Wolf’. ‘You – Zeeva? You weigh 19 kg! We will call you Ziva!’
– What a name, Ziva?… I was afraid.‹
Born in Poland and living and working in Israel, Inga Fonar Cocos is interested in the invisible processes which lead the individual to understand their situation in respect to a surrounding society and motivate them in forming a view of their worlds. The video combines still images, intimate portraits of the five interviewees with close-ups of their hands, sometimes still, sometimes gesturing. Due to particular historical as well as individual circumstances, each one of them lived the experience of his or her name being changed in order to adapt it to a changed environment. While telling the story of their changing names, the interviewees re-encounter the social and emotional conflicts and intense moments of pressure as part of their migrational experience. Insecurity and fear return, when they re-narrate their emotions as a young child or adolescent, but in some cases also the distinct desire of an adult to cut the cord and symbolically dissociate him- or herself from a past are motives behind the decision to change a name. Occasionally photographs from childhood are cross-faded with the sequence of extreme close-ups. Some, but not all the secrets and emotions which lay hidden in the narratives are revealed to us. It is a collage technique in which some fragments are transformed into a sound-text piece, chanted-whispered by the vocal artist Etty Ben-Zaken, creating the impression of an ›inner conversation‹ of the characters, while others appear as subtitles. A second video work by Inga Fonar Cocos in the exhibition, Between Homelands, is based on a dialogue between two women: an older voice (the artist’s mother) and a younger one, who recite a poem by the Polish poet Stanislaw Barańczak (If Only Porcelain). Postcards from a collection of the artist’s parents from the 1940s and 1950s, black-and-white photographs which were taken after their return to Warsaw in the aftermath of the Second World War, and photographs that the artist herself took during a sojourn in Poland form a visual archive which evokes again an awareness of time—time fleeting, dreamlike time, gaps in time, memory of time—and memory, and the constant impermanence of a life suspended between different identities and places.
Inga Fonar Cocos (*1953, Warsaw), studied art and philosophy at Kalisher School of Artin, Tel Aviv and at the Faculty of the Arts and the Department of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University, lives and works in Tel Aviv.