Vancouver torpedoes proposed location for controversial ‘boy holding shark’ statue

Click to play video: '‘Boy Holding A Shark’ artwork already sparking conversations' ‘Boy Holding A Shark’ artwork already sparking conversations
A yet-to-be-installed public artwork is already causing controversy along Vancouver's False Creek seawall. Paul Johnson has more on the polarizing 'Boy Holding A Shark' sculpture – Jun 12, 2021

A controversial statue intended for installation in False Creek south will need to find another home.

The City of Vancouver confirmed on Saturday that it has denied the Vancouver Biennale’s request to install Boy Holding Shark at its proposed location just east of Moberly Square.

The 7.8-metre (25.5 feet) steel sculpture is composed of a red tower with a teal-coloured figure of a boy holding a silver shark standing atop.

Read more: Proposed Vancouver sculpture latest piece of public art to spark controversy

The statue almost immediately drew opposition from area neighbours and prompted a petition that attracted about 1,500 signatures.

Opponents described it as an “unsightly imposition” that could create safety hazards on the busy seawall.

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New neon artwork in Vancouver raises eyebrows – Dec 12, 2017

In a statement on Saturday, a city spokesperson cited “concerns around congestion and overcrowding,” adding that it would support the Biennale in finding “a more suitable location along the seawall.”

The application was denied following a technical review that considered resident comments, along with a site assessment, they said.

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“The city supports temporary exhibitions of artworks on public land in many neighbourhoods, and we want to ensure that the proposed artwork is appropriate for the site and that the exhibition does not negatively impact current use.”

The sculpture is the creation of artist Chen Wenling, who also designed the distinctive, red Proud Youth sculpture installed on the north side of False Creek.

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A spokesperson for the Vancouver Bienalle previously defended the sculpture, stating that opponents were misrepresenting its size.

According to the Biennale, the piece is intended as a meditation on the relationship between the fate of the oceans and human health, which taps into Vancouver’s history as a port city and a hub of environmental activism.

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