A proper name is a word that answers the purpose of showing what thing it is that we are talking about but not of telling anything about it.
― John Stuart Mill in A System of Logic (1. ii. 5.)
A name. Everybody has one. Individuals, artists and academics from all over the world share their thoughts about the meaning and purpose of one’s name from both private and public perspectives. The problem of homonymy and other reasons for changing one’s name are explored as the film draws references from history, popular culture and individual experiences, leading us to the case of a name change that caused a stir in the small country of Slovenia and beyond.
In 2007 three artists joined the conservative Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and officially changed their names to that of the leader of that party, the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša. While they renamed themselves for personal reasons, the boundaries between their lives and their art began to merge in numerous and unforeseen ways.
Signified as an artistic gesture, this particular name change provoked a wide range of interpretations in art circles both in Slovenia and abroad, as well as among journalists and the general public.
The idea for this documentary sprang from a personal experience. In 2007, I legally changed my name, together with two other Slovenian artists, to Janez Janša. Janez Janša was the Prime Minister of Slovenia at the time and suddenly there were more Janez Janšas acting together within the same physical and media space. The system of reference of names started to crack…
Photo: Borut Peterlin
This made me reflect on issues such as identity vs identification, multiplicity vs multiplication, the name as an interface between the private and the public, and the personal name as a brand.
I have dealt with these and many other questions in numerous lectures/presentations at various universities and museums around the world. On these occasions, I started discovering dramaturgical possibilities of the story that I was telling and constantly reshaping, amending with regard to the audiences’ responses. The draft for the script of the film My Name Is Janez Janša was thus the result of a series of direct interactions with the audience. The theatrical piece The More of Us There Are, the Faster We Will Reach Our Goal served as a study for the script as well.