Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
The removal of a guerrilla-art depiction of the devil has led thousands of Vancouver residents to pledge allegiance to evil.
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. The second-best trick has to be convincing Vancouver that he should.
Tuesday, commuters riding Vancouver's Millennium Line near the VCC-Clark Station were greeted by a nine-foot statue of Satan. The statue depicted the Adversary throwing up some horns with one hand, and holding a piqued erection with the other. Needless to say, it did not stand long: The Vancouver Sun reports that the City of Vancouver removed it hours after it emerged on Tuesday.
Yet in the short time while the Deceiver lorded over public rail in East Vancouver, he won over some converts. A Change.org petition asking the City of Vancouver to kindly reinstate the statue has now received more than 2,000 signatures—quite possibly as much vocal support as any public art anywhere in the city. Two more petitions nearly double the ranks of Vancouver's Satanic supporters.
What the hell's going on in Vancouver? One supporter says that a tower statue of the Father of All Lies is less wicked than the sculpture that previously stood on the pedestal where Satan was erected on Tuesday.
"Satan has done a lot less harm than [Christopher] Columbus and therefore should be less offensive," said petitioner Kirsten Hadfield, according to reports. "All of the harm attributed to Satan lacks proof, where Columbus is a historical sign of colonialism and imperialism, which is one of the greatest travesties in human history, and its effects continue to have a negative impact on the society we live in.”
As of this writing, the artist who put up the statue has not identified themselves. But they've made some fans, including a Vancouver gallery called Hot Art Wet City. Indeed, the statue would seem to be a natural fit in the gallery's October exhibition, "Boobies & Wieners: Bigger & Longer."
Hi @CityofVancouver if you have the devil with a boner statue, I'm happy to display it here at our gallery for Sept/October. Maybe forever.— Hot Art Wet City (@HotArtWetCity) September 10, 2014
Cheerily, the City of Vancouver answered that it wasn't yet ready to part with Lucifer and his boner.
Aw, @HotArtWetCity, that's a great offer! Currently we're holding the statue until the owner comes to collect it though. ^JP— City of Vancouver (@CityofVancouver) September 10, 2014
One of the petitions calls on the city to hand the Defiler over to the Granger Bros, filmmakers who are equal parts crypt-keepers and public access–television hosts. Apparently, they man a facility called an Odditorium. (Vancouver is proving to be a spicier place than I would've guessed.)
Many more Vancouverites would like to see the Author of All Sin reinstalled at the juncture of 4th Avenue and Clark Drive, though.
Vancouver, you disappoint me. Nobody yarn bombed the satan statue to give it a penis cozy.— Stephanie C. (@stepc) September 11, 2014
"The City of Vancouver has long been a leader in investing in public art to beautify its legendary and illustrious landscapes," writes Darryl Greer, the person who launched the most popular petition to date. "For example, its near $100,000 expenditure on a statue of a porcelain dog on Main Street in the recent past served as a reminder that the merit of art is subjective and the value of public art can't be quantified simply in a dollar figure."
This might be a lesson for Vancouver and other cities: If you move a sculpture from one park to another but leave a pedestal standing, someone's going to take advantage of that. And in bypassing the design-by-committee process that dominates public-art commissions, cities and artists can arrive at work that is more memorable, if darker.
I wouldn't be surprised if the sculpture of the Enemy once again sees the light of day (although I'd've guessed almost any other Pacific Coast city before Vancouver as its host). One aspect of the design might need to change first, though....
my favourite pic from the van city workers removing the satan statue. you can only see his uh, "tail" stick out pic.twitter.com/5jVUGD4IgF— Chris_T (@chicosez) September 10, 2014