Singapore has recently been shocked with stickers on their streets potraying messages like ‘My Grandfather Road’, ‘Press to stop time’ and ‘Press to time travel’. They’re actually beautiful pieces of art that are mostly thought provoking rather than political, yet taking the heat from this by the Singaporean government is graffiti artist and founder of an online arts magazine, RCGNTN, Samantha Lo who was arrested under Singapore’s draconian 1996 vandalism law.
Her arrest has stirred strong emotions amongst citizens who some of which have signed a petition of over 14,000 people calling for a leniency in her charges for inducing some humour on the streets of Singapore. Some are also calling for a change in the vandalism laws to suit the time and age of the land with no chewing gum.
“I don’t see street art as being the same as graffiti or vandalism…it is almost impossible to talk about developing a culturally vibrant, creative or loveable city, without some tolerance for those slightly messy activities that sometimes challenge the rules,” Samantha Lo wrote on her official Facebook page.
The ‘Sticker Lady’, dubbed by netizens, if found guilty may face a jail term of up to three years or fined up to $2,000. We at JUICE think that instead of punishing these artists, governments should start realising that these artists are hidden gems of the counrty that can bring a positive impact towards society if nurtured well.
The police are claiming that it is an act of vandalism and she deserves to be dealt with severely but nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh says “it would be useful to make a distinction between this kind of art and outright graffiti or vandalism that seeks to deliberately destroy public property for its own sake.”
If vandalism is the issue here, set designated areas like old walls with deteriorating paint whereby street art or graffiti can be practiced and showcased. At least this can motivate youths to pursue the arts and express themselves through this gesture in a conducive environment.
Lo compares her work to British street artist Banksy who was under constant threat from the UK police but his work was later on protected by the authorities for tourists who are inclined towards this misunderstood form of art. Many would consider it as vandalism but if society is fighting for freedom of expression, this is just another element of it that should be recognised and preserved.
In a counrty where other businesses post up advertisement stickers but are rarely prosecuted, Lo points out to cities like Melbourne and the UK who are actually using street art as tourists attraction to bring colour and character to the streets.
To check out her online magazine, click here.