I think by now, most Singaporeans would have read about the arrest of the street artist for spray painting ‘MY GRANDFATHER ROAD’, on the roads. I personally think the rest of her work is genius, but I guess the higher-ups don’t quite agree: Police said they take a serious view of such irresponsible actions and warned that offenders will be dealt with severely. (Source: CNA)
I do feel that a harsh sentence* is an undeserved overreaction to creative and original expression. It will generate unwanted backlash for the government if it is perceived to be a humorless and unnecessarily stifling response typical of a stuffy and uptight bureaucracy, a judgment I would agree with on both counts.
This also reminds me of the PROJECT WHITE ELEPHANT t-shirt project done by my former schoolmates about the closure of the Buangkok MRT station which ALSO attracted an harsh and unwarranted response from the police.
So.We should recognize the whole incident as what it is - an illegal, yes, but also a brave, fun and very Singaporean attempt to bring street art to a level that most Singaporeans can identify with and appreciate. Part of a vibrant culture is the tolerance and encouragement of creative expression, beyond official boundaries. It is silly to imagine (ha ha) or expect otherwise. To say that art and expression can only exist within a set space is inherently contrary to the idea of originality and creativity.
In any case, the intention of this post (despite the long pre-amble) was also to draw your attention to the artist behind these mischievous stickers, which I am sure you’ve seen around town. I personally am guilty of pressing the traffic light buttons incessantly as if my life depended on annoyingly pressing the buttons as many times as I can before the green man comes on.
Also, take a look at the bubble project by Ji Lee which “encourage(s) anyone to fill (the speech bubbles) in with any expression, free from censorship. More Bubbles mean more freed spaces, more sharing of personal thoughts, more reactions to current events, and most importantly, more imagination and fun”. Ji Lee created and designed speech bubbles which were pasted on billboards and advertisements in cities, and his efforts took on a momentum on its own when people started to cotton on to his idea and really, the flickr pool is filled with so many creative examples of what people did with his idea and what happened when they started to run with it.
*I would consider anything more than a warning/ slap on the wrist to get the message across to be harsh.