Aluminum Volkswagon Beetles are proving too big a temptation for Vancouver thieves. For the second time in a year, one of the cast aluminum VW bug replicas in History of Loss, a public art installation outside the King Edward Canada Line transit station by Indian contemporary artist Sudarshan Shetty, has been swiped. The artwork is part of the Vancouver Biennale’s in-TRANSIT-ion exhibition.
The missing Beetle measures three feet, three inches wide and one foot high, and was displayed alongside others in clear Plexiglass boxes stacked in repeated rows to create the $250,000 artwork, which marks Shetty’s North American debut.
“If someone thinks they’re stealing it to fence it on the black market, they’re kidding themselves,” Miriam Blume, the Vancouver Biennale’s marketing and communications officer, told the Straight by phone.
She said the organization was now considering de-installing the artwork. “We hate to do it,” she said. “The Biennale is about putting public art in the community outdoors. We love that we have art at several Canada Line stations. People come from work, and school, and shopping, and they get to interact with art. Great cities all over the world have public art and we rely on the public to help keep the art safe”¦.I hate to allow a couple of pranksters to make us reconsider public art in this city.”
When the artwork was first targeted in March, the missing bug was recovered within two days thanks to a CrimeStoppers tip. “It was in someone’s living room,” Blume noted. “Someone knows something this time, and we’d really like it back.”
Blume said that instances of vandalism have increased during this Biennale exhibit. “We have had some vandalism in this exhibition, more than in the last one,” she said. “When you’re in the business of public art, you expect a few things.”
In addition to the attacks on the Shetty work, Blume said the giant Baroque heads of Javier Marin’s Cabeza Vainilla Cabeza Córdoba Cabeza Chiapas, located at 3 Road Landsdowne Station, Richmond, were vandalized when a someone took a hammer to them several months ago.
“They are in the process of being restored,” she said, adding that one person was taken into custody and charged.