PERSONAL SPACE: Melvin Junko

Working on the fringe of the art world, Ontario based performance artist Melvin Junko is an elusive figure who interacts at unexpected intervals and attempts nothing more than to inspire questions. His practice takes form through business card-sized photographic art-bombs placed in seemingly random public urinals across Canada. Over the past two years, Junko has conducted art bombing events at several large arts institutions across Canada including the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and the National Gallery of Canada.

Utilizing images of self, Junko creates a series of confrontation points throughout each city he visits. These spontaneous reflections of personal identity are projected onto random participants, breaking them away from their normal everyday lives and forcing them to think about their environment and look at themselves in a different way. They challenge the viewer to acknowledge their own fragility and their surroundings during the most vulnerable of times.

As a self-declared “Anti-Artist,” Junko operates outside the structures of “application” or “submission,” producing his arts practice wherever and whenever he wants. His attempt to ignore the existing institutionalized arts system with a proud understanding that these interactions do not conform to expected arts behaviour is the basis for the argument that his work does in fact fall within the arts sphere both physically and conceptually, making it extremely relevant to the art world he chooses not to acknowledge. Junko’s work brings into question many of the accepted traditions of the Canadian arts industry in line with a growing movement towards spontaneous self-directed arts actions. The increasing popularity of spur-of- the-moment arts interventions that occur online or in public without the constraints of financial support or patron development allows us to imagine an entirely different arts world emerging in the near future. How Melvin Junko will choose to interact with this new “anti-art art world” will be interesting to see.

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