‘Using waste material makes sense’: Mysterious artist Junko turns trash into giant sculptures


2023-03-29 06:45:26

Beneath a downtown Vancouver office tower, two creatures spring from the sidewalk. The futuristic, bug-like sculptures are made from old car parts, scrap metal and tossed out shoes.

The art installation, called “Habitat,” was created by a mysterious street artist named Junko.

habitat 1 6333275 1680051688059Habitat, which can be spotted in Vancouver’s business district, was created by Montreal-based artist Junko. (CTV News, Gary Barndt)Taking trash and twisting it into larger than life pieces is something the Montreal-based artist has been doing since 2020.

Their work, which is often inspired by animals and insects, has not only popped up in Quebec and B.C., but also in Ontario.

junko s art installation 1 6333278 1680051798547One of Junko’s art installations on display in Montreal. (COURTESY: JUNKO)While the creations are prominent in public places, Junko prefers to remain anonymous. When meeting with CTV News at a park in Metro Vancouver, they were dressed in a camouflage hooded sweater, grey cargo pants and black gloves.

They also wore sunglasses and a dark scarf that covered most of their face. Their secrecy is intentional, because Junko wants their art to speak for itself.

“I enjoy sharing my work in public, but I like to leave the work open to interpretation,” the artist said.

junko 1 6333280 1680052031395Junko, the anonymous street artist, spotted in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park during an interview with CTV National News. (CTV News, Melanie Nagy)Junko’s sculptures are a form of street art, which is meant to be visual, accessible, inclusive and thought provoking. The British Journal of Aesthetics describes the genre as “neither officially sanctioned public art, nor institutionally condoned.”

While Junko has long been drawn to art, starting with sketching dinosaurs as a child, they admit “street art culture” and its “element of mystery” is a source of inspiration.

Before starting a project, Junko scours alleys, parks and garbage lots in search of reusable material. The artists’ goal, is to recycle and repurpose the things most people throw out.

“I’ve always enjoyed exploring my environment and collecting things that I find,” they said. “So using waste materials just makes sense to me.”

They add when walking around different cities they see the amount of trash that accumulates, and it’s a “no brainer to use some of it for creating art.”

Junko says they have experience in sustainable construction, which means building with renewable and recyclable resources.

“This body of work is the result of applying that experience to my art practice.”

A recent example of Junko’s art can be spotted hanging from an overpass located in East Vancouver. Clinging to the cement is a giant black spider made from discarded items such as windshield wipers.

spider installment 1 6333286 1680052315415An artist named Junko is giving Vancouver commuters quite the shock with a new spider installment along the Millennium Line. (Instagram)Since the unusual sculpture appeared in mid-March, it has been generating a whole lot of buzz in the community. Dozens of people pass by the area every day, with many stopping just to take a peek at the installation, which Junko named “Phobia.”

However, not everyone is a fan of the piece. Not long after it popped-up, city officials say they received complaints it was creeping out some Vancouver commuters.

In response, the artwork was deemed unsanctioned and a decision was made to have it removed.

“It’s got tons of people talking, which is the whole point of public art. The problem with it is that they didn’t go through public art process the city has,” said Vancouver City Councillor Peter Meiszner. “One of the issues with the location of it is that it’s above an active rail line so there are some concerns there.”

When asked about the controversy, Junko said “I think it is a shame, as there’s a lot of people that really enjoy the artwork being there and it isn’t hurting anyone”. The artist also reiterated that it’s entirely made out of reused material collected in Vancouver, which they feel shines a light on the importance of reducing waste.

As part of its vision, Vancouver has committed to being a zero-waste community by 2040.

After their work was ordered out, Junko took to their Instagram page, calling on followers to flood the city with positive feedback in an attempt to “save spidey.”

While the art’s future is in limbo, Meiszner says it’s very unlikely it can remain where it is. Staff are being asked to work with the artist to find a new home for the controversial arachnid.

If, in the end, the spider is squashed, Junko says they’ll move on to their next creation, because nothing will stop them from pursuing their passion. So, keep your eyes peeled, because you never know where Junko’s street art will next appear.

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Source by [earlynews24.com]