In 1983 I changed my name and produced a “name changing” piece as part of my MFA final exhibition. I built a symbol of the Berlin wall, made of cinder block and razor wire, which was 10 feet high and 20 feet long. On the front side of the wall was painted “Daniel Johnson / Berlin”, and on the back side were numerous pictures of people perched on step ladders and climbing up light poles, peering over the newly constructed Berlin wall, yearning/looking for family and friends when the wall was erected in 1961.
Changing my name, as a signifier and illusory label, was motivated by several factors. I was leaving academic life and entering the so-called real world; using the wall as a stretched metaphor for various dual notions: East vs. West, freedom vs. non-freedom, left brain vs. right brain, as well as the academic life vs. the “real” world. There is also the reference to the personal dual heritages of Sweden and Germany.
All content © 2013 by Daniel Berlin