THE LAST LEVEQUE _2016/20194.a
-The Loss of The Name-
All my sisters married and though I have a brother, my father had no son. It took me several years after his death to realize the legacy he’d left me. Features, belongings, memories have been passed onto me but the most significant part of this heritage was so obvious that I had looked past it.
I was the last Lévêque, final link of a family chain from which I didn’t even know the length of.
Then at least, the last of our Lévêque. Not only was that name very common in France, I actually managed to find, without difficulty, over fifty-nine Camille Lévêques online. I have always hated my name, always hated the fact that was instantly giving away the fact that I was French but more than anything I hated the fact that it was such a common name. Without me noticing it, the loss of my father transformed what I thought was a detail in my personal history into one of the founding pillars of my identity. Behind that name lied ruins of my family’s past. Memories we had, objects we were growing up with, conversations we built.
My name was, then more than ever, telling the story of who I was, and where I came from. Story in which my mother was nonexistent, nameless figure silently standing in the background of my past. And I would too one day be shifted to the shade of a stranger’s name.
It is beyond my comprehension the way that it can still be so commonly accepted that only from a man to another you meander. Very few are the women holding onto their maiden name, as the journey leading to the construction of their new family has two steps: marriage and motherhood. Women could hold onto their name when marrying but would have to surrender when having children if they want to share the same name as their kin.
To avoid being a stranger in her own family, a woman has to eradicate the visible remains of her past family. The family she comes from, the one that once defined and shaped her. Taking her husband’s name she then becomes a stranger to her past family, sharing a name with neither her siblings, nor her parents, she is now defined to society with a whole new role and a new identification. She is assimilated to a completely different family, their background and their history.
The nameless, faceless, story-less laying hen, disposable link in the family chain.
I could not introduce myself as someone who isn’t related to my family.
This last name stands for the last word of a conversation I was never invited to be a part of.
-The Camille Lévêques-