Renaissance City My Arse!

Skl0 is a Singaporean guerilla artist who has been responsible for street art that has been spotted around Singapore recently. On the sides of roads, she would paint “My Grandfather Road” and she would place stickers on traffic light posts which satirize the behavior of Singaporeans.

Technically, of course, what Skl0 has done is against the law and a case could be made against her to convict her of vandalism, the consequences of which are possible jail time and caning. To do so, would be draconian and would suggest that the Singapore authorities are more concerned about law and order than creativity and artistry. This would be totally at odds with the perceived notion of Singapore as a “Renaissance City” where arts and culture are allowed to flourish.

So is Skl0 an artist or a vandal? How can we tell the difference? Would classifying Skl0 as an artist and making an exception in her case encourage more vandalism and defeat the purpose of the law? These are difficult questions but if we do not as a society (that aspires to inhabit a “Renaissance City”) debate and come to a consensus on what constitutes art then we might as well give up now and return to the good old days when Singapore was rightfully described as a ‘cultural desert’.

As an arts teacher, I talk to my students about art being a representation of ideas, genuinely taking risks and thinking ‘outside of the box’ – concepts that I hope will aid in their creative development. The authorities have also been championing these ideals in the context of developing Singapore as a “Renaissance City”. What kind of message would it send to our young people if the authorities convict a young artist displaying these qualities in a manner that has resonated and connected with many Singaporeans on multiple levels successfully?

Instead of living in paranoia and fear as to what floodgates may open by allowing such activity, the authorities need to engage the arts community to consider how we can work together to foster the proper attitudes and environment that will give us all what we truly want – the “Renaissance City”.

The first step would be to recognize that whilst Skl10 has technically broken the law and thus should be responsible for her illegal acts, she should not – by virtue of her artistic efforts – be punished with the full severity of the law but given a lighter sentence. Therefore, I have signed an online petition to review the sentence of Skl0 in the hopes that the relevant authorities will recognize that this is not your run-of-the-mill case of vandalism and that an opportunity has presented itself to properly engage the arts community and to ‘walk the talk’.

If you agree with the thoughts articulated above, I would encourage you to sign the petition in support as well. http://www.change.org/petitions/mica-review-sentence-of-skl0-arts-censorship-in-sg

5 Replies to “PoPINIONS”

  1. I agree with your analysis that “whilst Skl10 has technically broken the law and thus should be responsible for her illegal acts, she should not – by virtue of her artistic efforts – be punished with the full severity of the law but given a lighter sentence.” I hope her lawyer can make use of the petition in making written representations to the AG.

  2. A law is a law. Such irresponsible behaviors should never been condoned to. This would just encouraged more ‘street artists’ to pop out around Singapore. We do not need that. They can always showcase their ‘products’ at art fair/museums.
    If she is a responsible, she should have identify herself rather than hide in the dark with her ‘art work’, waiting for Police to identify and arrest her.

  3. She has to face the consequences of her actions. While her creativity cannot be ignored, to do this on public property is clearly a breech of the law. If she was guided or seeked help in expanding her creative ideas, her work could hav been used in collaboration with various govt campaigns or private ads. Remember how SingPost launched the campaign with their new graffiti type mailboxes? Yes, that wld have been great

  4. @cy: Wow, really? If so, many other behaviours that directly endanger people such as jay walking or speeding should also be severely punished, not some light humour that is directed at people who abuse public property. You tell me, those drivers who drive like the road is their grandfather’s and this satirical spraypaint, which one will likely road kill your sorry self? Or are you one of those irresponsible drivers?
    Perhaps you are also one of those gahmen bigot, since obviously your response has no link to the article at all.

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