The Name Giver

Michael Kessus Gedalyovich

As an artist and writer, Michael Kessus Gedalyovich’s work is always in dialogue with Jewish mysticism. The Name Giver takes the biblical story of the creation as its starting point. In the first book of Genesis, God’s creation is completed when he populates it with mankind. The story of this part of creation is unclear. At first, God is said to create both male and female in parallel, or as female and male in one body. Later it is said that God creates Adam first, who is then given the power to name all the other animals as he wishes. Only afterwards is the female Eve created from Adam’s own rib, as a means of overcoming man’s loneliness.

In the following chapters of the biblical narrative, it is Eve who takes the dominant role, negotiating with the snake and feeding Adam from the Tree of Knowledge. After their expulsion from Eden, Eve takes upon herself the right to give names without consulting God, and names her child Cain (in Hebrew the word קיניין , Cainan, comes from the root word for ‘possession’). Cain then continues the lineage of defiance that results from Eve’s activism.

The Name Giver relates to the confusion, indecisiveness, changing and turning in the Genesis story. It reminds us of how there is a need to order the world. Here, just as in the Bible, it is the woman who sees the big picture and takes responsibility, even though traditionally patriarchal societies would always see men in this role. – GE