The city of Montreal is no stranger to public sculptures. Home to an eclectic collection of statues that are dotted across the map of the entire city, it’s hard to pick a walking path through the downtown area or Old Montreal that doesn’t pass by at least one eye-catching sculpture. Recently, some new sculptures have been popping up along the city’s snowy streets, and their creator refers to them as “glorified littering.” These eerie and interesting new forms are the creations of an artist under the pseudonym Junko, and as their creator’s name implies, they are composed of junk.
Junko began to publicly share his pieces at the end of December 2020 via his Instagram account. His first published post was on December 27th and showed off what was apparently his first endeavour into repurposing garbage as sculpting materials. “Working on this sculpture gave me a sense of purpose,” Junko states on the post. “As well as opened my eyes to the potential of creating sculptures from junk.”
Much of Junko’s work appear to take animal-like forms as well as feeling distinctly mechanical; the artificial skeletons of some long forgotten creatures. Car parts, bike frames, toy pieces, and all sorts of detritus make for materials in the artist’s sculptures- and sometimes even real animal bones. And while some appear to be small enough to easily pick up, others stand easily over ten feet tall and loom ominously and beautifully in the environments they have been placed in.
With the mixture of natural forms and unnatural ingredients, Junko’s creations meld interestingly into all sorts of city spots. They seem as at home in a desolate stretch of snow and trees as they do beneath the concrete of an overpass. The reception to his sculptures has generally been positive, if a bit quizzical, but it is certainly not too out of place to find such creative public pieces in areas such as the Mile End in Montreal, where several of his creations reside.
While apparently not authorized public pieces, Junko’s works are all still standing currently. The artist states that his work can’t necessarily be classified as vandalism as they are essentially “an organized pile of trash.” The works clearly take a lot of work and gumption to install, but with the city of Montreal still in a lockdown due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, there is perhaps no better an opportunity to undertake such an endeavour.
Junko’s work has a decidedly Montreal feel to it. It’s experimental but understandable, strange but familiar, natural and urban. The creatures he has crafted seem at home in the city they lumber in. And with spring somewhere on the horizon, here’s hoping that more of these litter critters will be waking from hibernation soon.