Incredible Sculpture in Beijing Says “Hello” in 101 Different Languages

Endlessness by Hu Quanchun

Language lovers will appreciate a steel sculpture created in celebration of Beijing Foreign Studies University's 80th anniversary. Embracing the university's keywords of communication, exchange, and connection, artist Hu Quanchun designed a flowing sculpture with a special surprise engraved on the underside. Across the entire surface, the word hello is written in 101 different languages.

This choice reflects the 101 language programs at BFSU and its warm embrace of other cultures. At night, the words come alive thanks to LED illumination that gives them a soft glow. From Swahili (jambo) to Nigerian (bawo ni) to Czech (ahoj) the languages are placed together in a manner that shows how they are able to connect while still remaining unique.

But the choice to incorporate language into the sculpture, which is called Endlessness, is not the only way that BFSU's mission is expressed. Hu Quanchun and his team were also very thoughtful when considering the form that the piece should take. The rhythmic, flowing shape is not only pleasing to the eye, but was also selected after the careful evaluation of several factors.

The oval form is a wonderfully symbolic way to evoke communication, exchange, and connection—three keywords of BFSU. And after performing a site evaluation, the artist and his team realized that they could use the sculpture to better align the space. It sits on a square by the campus' west gate. The square also includes the three main teaching buildings at the university. The design of the space is slightly off, as the gate and the building opposite aren't in perfect alignment. To compensate for this, the team saw that a horizontal form would work best, as this would blur the misalignment, rather than a vertical composition that would exaggerate it.

The dynamic tension of the steel structure builds to a peak, before flowing down in a motion that is never-ending. When one considers the languages that run across the sculpture, we are truly seeing a connection.

Every detail was considered in the design, down to the material. In fact, the weathered steel was selected to match the color of the surrounding buildings and helps the sculpture blend into the environment. Thanks to this strategy, Endlessness slots in perfectly, appearing as though it has belonged at the university from the start. This thoughtful approach to public sculpture is a triumph for Quanchun and his team and is an example to be admired by others in the field.

Endlessness is a public sculpture to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Endlessness by Hu Quanchun Endlessness by Hu Quanchun

Along the underside, “hello” written in 101 different languages represents the university's linguistic programs.

Endlessness by Hu Quanchun Endlessness by Hu Quanchun Endlessness by Hu Quanchun

The entire sculpture embodies the university's three keywords: communication, exchange, and connection.

Endlessness by Hu Quanchun

The public sculpture was designed by Hu Quanchun and his team.

Endlessness by Hu Quanchun Endlessness by Hu Quanchun Endlessness by Hu Quanchun Endlessness by Hu Quanchun Endlessness by Hu Quanchun

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Jin Weiqi.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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