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.

Image of one of one the "MY GRANDFATHER ROAD" tags around Singapore.

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.

Image of one of the controversial stickers around Singapore.

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.”


Related Topics: street art, art in Singapore, censorship of art

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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