27 July 2022

Pilot Season of Name Takes

Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Anchor | Google Podcasts

What are the stories behind certain names? And, what causes do specific names promote? How is it that the meaning of a name changes over time?

Name Takes presents stories and cultures of naming, from the names of streets to buildings to people and beyond. The podcast’s host, Kay Em, features artists' voices and cases from the art field, emphasizing ways in which art promotes meaning-making. The pilot season of Name Takes includes four episodes—available here below or on your favorite podcast platform (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Google Podcasts)—exploring name giving, name taking, name changing, and name saying. Each episode tells of personal stories, and historical references, and encompasses readings and interviews.

Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam, which was formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, has a history of publishing timely, innovative and award-winning publications, ranging from artist’s books to exhibition catalogs to online journals. The podcast Name Takes stems from this publishing history, and it develops from research conducted since 2018, and to date, as part of its multi-year name change initiative, which you can read about here.

Finally, a key motivation for creating this podcast is having recurrently heard from our public the request that we advocate for historical learning. This was voiced especially during the public-input phase of our institutional renaming process in 2020. We consider historical learning can happen through contemporary means and with art of our present, connecting past and current references and perspectives in and through our activities. Name Takes is one such program offer.


The episodes are scripted in English and available with subtitles in English on our YouTube channel. Dutch subtitles will be available soon.

1. Name Giving

Host Kay Em explores the historical context of names, and centers especially on the name Witte de With, the name our institution had been given in 1990. Jumping back and forth in time, she delves into street naming, imagined communities, and colonial histories in The Netherlands. The episode ends with a segment of a film-in-development by Rotterdam artist Sara Rajaei, which tells a story about street naming in The City of Poets.

2. Name Changing

Kay Em unpacks our renaming process from Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art to Kunstinstituut Melly, and looks at dissonant heritage. She connects our institutional name change to other ongoing renaming processes and to site-specific art practices. Artist Sasha Huber discusses a problematic case of place naming and explains how her advocacy of anti-racism converges with her artistic practice. The episode ends with a reflection on the meaning of names by artists Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri.

3. Name Taking

What happens when artists take on new names and identities? What are the motivations and consequences? Kay Em brings together personal stories by and about artists’ names in different continents: poet Anaïs Duplan from New York; artist Wong Kit Yi from Hong Kong; and artist, writer, and organizer Fernanda Laguna from Buenos Aires. This episode ends with a deeply intimate reading by Stockholm-based artist Every Ocean Hughes about their own name change.

4. Name Saying

Over the past years, #saytheirnames has become widespread. Why is saying a name so important? Kay Em explores what it means to say, to not say, or to not be able to say someone’s name. Guatemalan artist Benvenuto Chavajay speaks to indigenous language, misnaming, and silence, and curator Andrea Valencia reflects upon names not included in the 9/11 Memorial in New York. This episode ends with artist Nicoline van Harskamp speaking about her project My Name is Language.


The storyboard for upcoming episodes is in development! If you would like to share a story about a name—or even about the culture of naming in general—to consider for a future episode, please email us: podcast [​at​] kunstinstituutmelly.nl.


The episodes of the pilot season of Name Takes were written by Sarah Demeuse and Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, and narrated by Kay Em, who is performed by Aqueene Wilson, the 2020-2021 Collective Learning in Practice (CLIP) Program Fellow at Kunstinstituut Melly. Jurith Schols is the voice talent of select citations. The podcast’s voice recording, mixing, and original music has been developed by Jan Pohl at Okapi Recordings in Rotterdam. The audio files were mastered by Masterenzo Mastering. Production management was overseen by Wendy van Slagmaat Bos, and communication and marketing by Jeroen Lavèn. The graphic design of Name Takes is by Wooseok Jang from Orange Slice Type, who participated in the third annual edition of CLIP, from 2020 to 2021.

The pilot season of Name Takes is produced by Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam, thanks to a grant from a donor who wishes to remain unnamed. Really. If you are interested in sponsoring Name Takes or in making a donation to support its production, whether under your name or credited anonymously, please reach out: support [​at​] kunstinstituutmelly.nl