End of the road for art school graduate who named street after himself

Ge Yulu apologises for putting up signs as part of project while Beijing academy puts black mark on his record

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 July, 2017, 11:42pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 July, 2017, 11:42pm

A top Beijing fine arts academy has put a black mark on the record of one of its graduates after he named a street after himself as part of his final-year project.

“The student has severely disrupted the teaching order, living order and public order ... After discussions the academy decided to give Ge Yulu a demerit,” China Central Academy of Fine Arts said in an online statement.

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Ge, 26, graduated from the academy this year and as part of his experimental arts studies put up several street signs with the characters “Ge Yu Lu” on an unnamed road in the eastern district of Chaoyang in 2013.

Lu means road in Putonghua and the signs were so convincing that they were quickly mistaken as official. Residents, deliverymen and even online map services soon adopted the name for the thoroughfare, which takes about 10 minutes to walk end to end.

Ge documented the process over the years and presented the work in a graduate exhibition last month.

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The project was detailed in an online post and soon attracted widespread attention and criticism from municipal authorities.

Ge apologised and city management officers took the signs down a week ago.

The academy also said it had put a demerit on the graduate’s record, a mild form of punishment one step beyond a written warning but short of expulsion.

But Ge, who has since been employed by a private art college, said the academy’s decision was not related to the street sign stunt but payback for an earlier unspecified wrongdoing.

“The street sign is part of the graduation work display. It belongs to an area of arts discussion. The academy will not punish me for this,” The Beijing News quoted him as saying.

Calls to the academy went unanswered yesterday.

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Individual Chinese are not permitted to name streets by or after themselves – that honour is strictly reserved for people who have made important contributions ­to the country or with notable achievements.

Just three signs in the capital are named after individuals and they commemorate generals Zhang Zizhong, Tong Linge and Zhao Dengyu, all of whom died fighting the Japanese in the 1930s and 40s.