The closest thing we have to immortality is living in the memories of strangers. Behold the story of Ge Yulu — who is just some guy — whose name is spoken by residents of a half-kilometer stretch of road in Beijing because they think, somewhat hilarious, the road is called Ge Yulu.
Mashable’s Yi Shu Ng has this story. In 2013, as part of an art project for the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Ge found a random street without any street signs, so he put some up, using his name. The last character in his name, lu, means “road” in Chinese, so people began referring to the street as “Ge Yu Road.” According to Mashable:
In an interview for a college publication, Ge said that he aimed to explore the meaning of his identity and privacy in a public space.
He had previously spray-painted his name on the entrances of his alma mater, Hubei Institute of Fine Arts, and written his name all over noticeboards, toilets and blackboards on campus.
“When I went to Beijing, I found that this metropolis had a lot of nooks and crannies,” he said. “Could ‘Ge Yulu’ survive in such a nook, in a place people usually ignored? That was at the root of this work, this idea.”
It did more than survive. It became immortalized in 2014 after an Alibaba-owned mapping platform, Autonavi, caused both Google and Baidu Maps to think the small street was actually called Ge Yu Road.
Alas, authorities have caught on, and are planning on taking down the Ge Yulu signs.
But don’t despair. As That’s points out:
The road is located in eastern Beijing and measures about 460 meters long. Despite the fact that the street name has been changed, many residents still know the street as “Ge Yulu.”
“None of us knows why the road is called Ge Yulu,” one resident said.