Vancouver city councillor proposes giant spider sculpture be relocated

Mar 27 2023, 9:58 pm

A city councillor who admits he is a fan of the new giant spider sculpture (that seems to have divided Vancouver) is proposing a solution to preserve the unsanctioned art

Earlier this month, a giant spider sculpture by Montreal-based artist Junko was installed under an overpass near the intersection of Broadway and Victoria Drive.

The new artwork, titled Phobia, caught the eyes of many commuters on the Millenium Line between Commercial-Broadway and Renfrew stations. 

Some thought it might be a bit too realistic, but others said they absolutely loved it. One of those fans happens to be City Councillor Peter Meiszner. 

“When I first saw it, I thought it was awesome. It’s the type of thing we want to see in the City,” he said. 


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A post shared by Junko (@junko.playtime)

According to Junko, Phobia is entirely constructed out of reclaimed waste materials collected in the streets of Vancouver. 

It being made out of recycled material is exactly why Meiszner argues it’s a bonus: “We want more creative public art.”

However, Meiszner points out that the issue is the sculpture didn’t go through the public art process. 

In an email to Daily Hive Urbanized, the City further explained, “The installation of public art on key infrastructure, such as a bridge, would require due process to ensure safety.”

“As part of the City’s public art program, all public artwork proposals go through an in-depth review by engineers to ensure that safety, structural integrity, longevity, and maintenance plans will meet performance standards,” the City explained. 

Meiszner added the other issue the City raised is that the art hangs above an active rail line. 

“So there’s all sorts of consideration that would be taken into account there. That’s one of the big concerns,” he said. 

Junko calls the decision from the City “a shame,” adding they had considered the risks of where to hang the piece. 

“The sculpture isn’t putting anyone or anything at risk, it’s positioned in a way that isn’t accessible to the public and isn’t close enough to the train tracks to pose any risk of interference,” Junko said.

“It’s also very easy to ignore, it’s not visible from the street, you pretty much need to look for it if you really want a good glimpse of it,” they explained. “I also think it’s a meaningful piece of art that reflects themes of biodiversity and ecological responsibility.”

Junko pointed out that the decision to remove their artwork is “odd.”

“In my opinion, it’s no different from all the trash and litter that’s accumulated on the train tracks, and the city seems to have no problem leaving that there,” they said. 

In an Instagram post, Junko added that the City’s decision to remove the art was because the City only heard from people with opposing opinions. They argued locals also had positive things to say about the artwork, which is why they called on supporters to message the City to “help change their mind!


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A post shared by Junko (@junko.playtime)

In its response, the City clarified that it had received a high volume of feedback, both complaints and support, regarding the spider structure, “however, this is not why it is being removed.”

Junko has installed several works of art around the Metro Vancouver area, many of which they say are even larger than the Phobia sculpture in East Vancouver. 


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A post shared by Junko (@junko.playtime)

“But I’ve never gotten such a strong emotional response,” they said. “People seem to have very strong feelings about spiders.

“Overall I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, many of my followers have told me it’s their favourite of my work yet. There’s been some negative feedback too, due to people’s fear of spiders, but it’s impossible to please everyone with public art. Also, spiders play just as much a role in our natural ecosystem as any other creature so it seems silly to me that they should be considered taboo.”

Meiszner said he’s put in a request with the City manager to propose that the City find a way to work with the artist and find a permanent home for the art. 

However, Junko told Daily Hive Urbanized the artwork was built for the exact spot it is in. 

“That’s where it belongs,” they insist. 

While they say it’s encouraging to hear there are people working for the City that enjoy the art work and want to preserve it, “I’m not interested in relocating it.”

“There’s already tons of garbage down there, it just happens to look like a spider,” they explained. “I think the city shouldn’t look at it as public art, but just as more litter on the train tracks, seems like they have no problem ignoring that … It’s extremely site specific, and makes amazing use of the location, creating something unique out of an area that would otherwise be bland and vacant.”

What do you think? Are you for the Phobia sculpture staying or do you want it gone? Let us know in the comments below. 

With files from Kenneth Chan

Nikitha MartinsNikitha Martins

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