My name is Cohen  25 November 2011 until 15 April 2012

By Daniel Cohen & Mischa Cohen

Lois Cohen © Daniel CohenFrom 25 November 2011 to 15 April 2012, the Jewish Historical Museum will present My Name is Cohen in its Print Room. This exhibition, the work of photographer Daniel Cohen and journalist Mischa Cohen, focuses on the question of how much a person's identity and image are shaped by a chance characteristic like a surname.

Few names leave such a profound mark on their bearers as 'Cohen' (meaning 'priest'), the ultimate Jewish surname. Daniel Cohen and Mischa Cohen (who are not related) know that Cohens often have some explaining to do. If it isn't the politics of Israeli settlements, then it's the meaning of Jewish holidays, the impact of the Shoah, the thinking behind slaughter without stunning, or their relationship to Dutch Labour leader Job Cohen. Not every modern-day Cohen can answer questions like these at the drop of a hat.

How do other Cohens relate to their name in 2011? Daniel and Mischa uncovered the personal stories of twenty-five of their namesakes in Amsterdam, interviewing and photographing them against the backdrop of their city. They interviewed women, men, Orthodox Jews, agnostics, pro-Palestinians, Israelis, Jews, and non-Jews from three different generations.

A selection of photographic portraits with quotes from the interviews is on display at the exhibition My Name is Cohen. The book with the same title, designed by Tijl Akkermans of Zinnebeeld and published by &Cohen with a foreword by Arnon Grunberg, contains the twenty-five portraits and the complete interviews. The book is available at the Museum Shop in the Jewish Historical Museum. For more information, please visit www.mijnnaamiscohen.nl.

Daniel Cohen (b. 1979) is a freelance photographer who produces portraits and documentary series for major Dutch periodicals such as Vrij Nederland and Volkskrant Magazine. He also works on independent projects such as We Want More, which resulted in a book and exhibitions in Amsterdam and London.

Mischa Cohen (b. 1957) is an editor at the leading Dutch weekly Vrij Nederland.

www.mynameiscohen.com

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