Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The devil art of Vancouver

My friend Armando likes to trumpet Rob Zombie's quote that "art is not supposed to be safe."

Maybe that needs to be argued to the city of Vancouver, Canada.

In September of 2014, a statue suddenly appeared in a local park. It was a red, nine-foot tall, classical depiction of the devil. The art had everything you would expect: large horns, pointed tail, and of course its right hand making heavy metal's customary "devil horn" salute. For certain sectors of the population, such a statue might be disturbing enough in and of itself. But wait! There's more! This devil sports a...well, massively erect phallus. Naturally, the city removed the artwork with all due urgency, despite a petition with 2,000 signatures to reinstate the statue.

Then last August, a companion piece of sorts appeared at the intersection of Main and Kingsway. This time, it is a statue of a nude, white-skinned, and pregnant she-devil, likewise flashing the devil-sign with her hand. Of course the city pulled it down before any of the citizenry could fall under the influence of satanism, contract lycanthropy upon eye contact with the piece, or feel the urge to have sex out of wedlock. Apparently only the Powers That Be may officially sanction works of art. The guerrilla artist who has sculpted these pieces has yet to be identified, but whoever they are, they've become something of a folk hero in Vancouver. What were the intentions of this artist? We can only guess.

Maybe they knew full well that their art would be removed post haste. As such, only a lucky few would get to see it in person. One moment it is there, the next it is gone. Was that a commentary on the ephemeral nature of life?

Perhaps it's not really art at all. Watch, another statue will appear but this time it will be completely "appropriate" (whatever the hell that means) and announcing the establishment of the first "Devil Burger" franchise in British Columbia. I envision this devil statue to be far more family friendly and cartoonish, maybe something like the one from those old Hot Stuff comics. Instead of flashing the horns, this one will be holding out a plate. Upon the plate is a sloppy, messy cheeseburger, beckoning the viewer to get themselves to the nearest Devil Burger. Naturally, there are any number of burger offerings that come with jalapenos, chipotle, habanero, whatever.

Either that or the artist just likes to shock.


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