SOUTHEAST ASIA GRAFFITI URBAN ART
A 25-year-old female Singapore street artist has been arrested for painting “MY GRANDFATHER ROAD” around the city. The vandalism charge could lead to up to three years in jail, and is sparking a debate over the legality and benefits of street art.
Singapore-based news organisation AsiaOne states that Samantha Lo is believed to be SKL0, commonly dubbed “The Sticker Lady,” a Singapore guerilla street artist known for her tags and stickers. Lo is the Founder of RCGNTN, an online magazine dedicated to local culture and artists. She was also a content curator for the National Art Gallery, Singapore’s project The Canvas.
The artist is being accused of vandalism, which in Singapore carries the penalty of either a fine of up to SGD2,000 (USD1,570) or up to three years of jail time. Male vandals are also subject to caning. The Singapore Land Transport Authority first filed the police report about the stickers and graffiti that led to the artist’s arrest in her home. Arresting officers also found stencils and stickers there.
Lo has told the media that neither she nor her magazine is responsible for the stickers or graffiti, while fellow RCGNTN writer Yasin Rahim commented that the stickers were freely distributed at their events.
Many fans have rushed to support the street artist, claiming that she is doing a service to the city. There is an online petition to reduce her charge from Vandalism to Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance), which carries a smaller fine and no jail time. The letter also asks the Singapore Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts to recognise her work as art, opening the dialogue around the legality of street art.
Several Singapore politicians have also jumped to her defense. Nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh left a note on Lo’s Facebook page comparing the artist to Banksy. She also stressed the importance of lenience for cultural development, saying that “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”. Nicole Seah, a member of Singapore’s National Solidarity Party, commented that the city must be tolerant of “organic, bottom-up creative activities” if it is to progress in the arts.
Twitter user @samRCGNTN, believed to be Lo, posted Tuesday evening, “Hi everyone, I am more than grateful for all the support and I am truly touched.”
- Decade-long worldwide graffiti tour makes Jakarta first Asian stop – January 2012 – the Indonesian city is quickly becoming a hub of street art in Southeast Asia
- Art Radar Asia launches Hong Kong Street Art Series: interview with co-owner of Above Second – October 2010 – street art galleries were very popular in Hong Kong in the late 2000s
- Singapore needs to address issues of freedom, says urban artist Trase One – July 2011 – the artist comments on street art and its relationship to the country’s political climate
- Street artist JR covers Shanghai with wrinkly faces – video – March 2011 – a French street artist comes to China and leaves his mark with these touching portraits of elderly citizens
- What is Street Art? Vandalism, graffiti or public art- Part I – January 2010 – an overview of the many styles and issues involved in street art
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