Joëlle Kem Lika


Joëlle Kem Lika

About my name

My name often raises questions… To my surprise, people often think it is asian… or other… no problem to me.

It is my artist's name, a mixture of a pen name: Kem and others...

I'm French... my mother was born in Normandy, in a Saint Vaast La Hougue family... and my father was from Lorraine, my maiden name : Sourd.
My father's grandfather was among the French who had to choose between becoming german or leaving for the French colonies in Northern Africa.
He chose adventure and sold all his properties... My grandfather is said to have found a source in Manouba, close to the city of Tunis, by exploding a small bomb in the desert sand, and created a large estate. This story, told many times by my father during my childhood, gave me this drive :
never to get discouraged by events,
to build or rebuild incessantly,
in the human desert, sometimes...
My mother's grandfather was a police captain in Carthage.
Both my parents were born in Tunisia and so was I.
A country dear to my heart, I have been back a few times, always a strong emotional experience. I love the colour of the land, the smells... the beauty of its Nature...
I have been cherished mostly by a very loving Tunisian woman during the five years of my life and childhood in Tunisia.

In 1960 my family move back to France, History again, the independence, politics. My parents settle down in Aquitaine. I studied in Libourne near Saint Emilion, and a family house in Lacanau Océan has provided sublime moments between the forest and the ocean, the sunsets, the waves, the beauty of Nature.


KEM : a pen name I have composed with the aid of numerology,
I had researched Buddhism for several years and at the time I had found my spiritual path. Born in a catholic family, I have looked for a spiritual path, rather than a religious one.

I wanted a name that talked about my freedom as a woman,
at the time I was 25 years old, very libertarian, a bit rebellious even,
I did not want to carry my father's name nor the one of a husband... to "remain free" was my way. A lifetime search...
I was twenty just a couple of years after 1968 (my elder sisters have moved things), and before AIDS ; years of pure happiness, being a student in Paris, freedom of thought, of action, a real joy of life.
After registering my new name at the Magistrates' court, I noticed that Kem is also the anagram of Mek... ("Mek" is French for "Guy")
Being a woman is the opposite of being a man ?
A good starting point for my search of happy womanhood... (joke) ???

In my head : its my name as a citizen of the planet. I'm French, of course, but I'm also a human being on a planet that asks for respect, I'm a citizen of the World, from here and there, and history has proven to me that we can be tossed around by governments, wars...
I have always felt without any roots other than the ones of my heart.
Parisian for thirty years, in Burgundy for twenty two years after that... from here and there...

Right now I am travelling a lot,
and I feel just as comfortable in Miami, Florida as in Paris... Vienna, Rome, I love the Italians, San Gimigniano... New York and London, I love to go to London and to live among the British, a different rhythm than the Parisians...



LIKA : my husband's name (yes, I cracked up...), I got married at age 43, our five year old daughter was our bridesmaid.

So, on my husband's side : History struck again... his grand father was Polish, drawn to the west... he ended up in the Nancy region (eastern part of France) ;
My husband's father moved from Nancy towards the South West of France with a Polish battalion during World War II, he met a girl in the Gers region. She had a wonderful name : Pellefigues.
He married the French nationality and the girl and settled in Nérac (Lot et Garonne).
People often tell me "Lika" is very short for a Polish name : yes, there are rumors that the family has noble origins and that part of the name has supposedly been sold...
But there is no proof of that... and no time for research... so it's just a Polish name... a short one.


I have kept "Kem" because I find my complete name strange... and I enjoy that. It raises questions...

Maybe these are dangerous times for that...

But I find a singing sound to it...


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