Change your name from time to time

As an architecture student I remember we had a professor in our university who we called Dr. F-Weiler, because the F-Word was part of his familyname: Fickweiler. Foremost my female muslim college fellows didn’t dare to call him, because it’s simply ḥarām. And I remember the mother of my colleague when I jobbed at Benetton who carried the First name Lolita. She now must be 50 or so.
My first name is Van Bo and my family name is Le-Mentzel. But a lot of friends call me Prime or Primo. (Prime became my nickname as a child, because I was always playing with a robot toy called Optimus Prime.) My ghanaian friends call me Primus. One of my best friends added “Longus” to the “Primus” just to make fun of me. My cousin Aloun (who I call Big Al or Alhuhn) calls me Hanf-Bo (I don’t smoke shit) and I remember a hippie girl I used to date, who called me Sandro for a long time, before I made clear that there must have been a misunderstanding. My student fellows call me Lee and my friends from my teenage era call me P-Rhyme MC ( which was my rappers name). Still today my bank consultant calls me Mr. Prime Lee, because that is the name on my credit card. Someday I added that name as an official artist name to my ID. Friends from my kindergarten era call me Jumbo, because this is somehow my real name.
Journalists go crazy when they write about my projects. Here is a list of wrong but very creative new combinations: Le Van Bo (Spiegel), Le Van Bo Mentzel (Berliner Zeitung), Bo Lementzel (Süddeutsche), Levon Bo-Mentzel, Le Menzal (CNN), Le Mentale (HFBK Hamburg), Bo-Le Mentzel (Horizont), Prime Lee-Mentzel (Finanzamt Kreuzberg), Bambi Lemenzel, Herr Gemetzel, Prime Bo-Van Le. I have stopped my google alert.

Van Bo Le-Mentzel

Van Bo Le-Mentzel
(c) Simon Jappel

Somehow I enjoy it reading my name in a new combination and I never correct it when I see journalists writing my name in a new way. Why? Because it’s not important. Who needs name to be static? Konfuzius (German) turns into Konfucjusz in Polish literature, otherwise he also occurs as Konfutse (Danish), Kong futsi (Estonian), Konfusyus (Kurdish), Konfuci (Albanian) or Konefasia in Samoa. Isn’t it a crazy idea, that the same person gets his own particular name in different languages?
A few years ago there was an exhibition about the japanese painter Hokusai at the Martin Gropius Bau museum. His very first paintings Hokusai published in 1779 under the name Katsukawa Shunrō. This was his name as an apprentice. In 1781-he changed his name to Zewaisai, and changed the master and his school. Four years later he went by the name Gumbatei in in 1795 he changed again into Sori. As a 37 years old painter he first appeared with the name that we know today: Hokusai. After that he changed again more than 20 times his name and died as master Fujiwara Litsu and bequeathed us 30.000 (sic!) paintings and the idea of a manga.
A man changes his interests and point of views a thousand times, why shouldn’t our names do it the same way? And there is a big advantage having several names. When people in the street call me “Jumbo”, “P-Rhyme MC” or “Van Bo” I immediately know, if the yeller is someone I got to know as a child, as a youngster or as an adult. So professor F-Weiler from my university should not be too serious with his name and why not: Introduce yourself to the next student generation as Dr. Fuckwhile or Bumsbleiber or Mr. Love. Change your name from time to time. It reminds you that you have to change your mind from time to time. (Van Bo Le-Mentzel, dieKulturvermittlung, 15.04.2015)


Van Bo Le-Mentzel is a German architect and university lecturer of Laotian origin. He is especially known for his furniture (Hartz IV Möbel, Build more buy less) and 1 m2-house construction manuals. Furthermore, he creates a sensation as a guest lecturer at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg by giving the highest mark to all of his students.

If you want to meet him be in Hamburg 4.5. (+ 8.6. / 6.7. / 24.10. / 2.11.) – Berlin 23.5. (+12.6. / 20.6. / 24.10.) – Zürich 15.4. – Wiesbaden 18.4. – Frankfurt 22.4. – Köln 1.5. (+ 5.8.) – Paderborn 19.6. – Ludwigshafen 14.7. – Wien 9.5. (+ 3.8. / 10.8. / 17.08. / 24.08.) – Bonn 20.9. – Los Angeles 28.9. – Heidelberg 14.11.

One response to “Change your name from time to time”

  1. gapi says:


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