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Graffiti in Singapore

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carteki
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Graffiti in Singapore

Postby carteki » Thu, 01 Jul 2010 10:25 am

It seems that this topic has been in the news a great deal lately - the latest being the decoration of the underground walkway to the Esplanade by Hong Kong - based artist Danny Yung - and in this instance people were even allowed to "doodle on the artwork".

I find it a bit of a conundrum - authorised graffiti is okay, but unauthorised isn't. How are the general public to know the difference? It could be argued that the painting of the trains was of the same quality as the painting of the post boxes (and at no point am I condoning the former).

And what are the people who put up the authorised versions trying to communicate? That graffiti (if done according to the rules - which is a contradiction) is art?

(For those of you who missed it, one of the posters advertising the Singapore Art festival in 2009 depicted graffiti)

Your thoughts?

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Re: Graffiti in Singapore

Postby nakatago » Thu, 01 Jul 2010 10:37 am

carteki wrote:It seems that this topic has been in the news a great deal lately - the latest being the decoration of the underground walkway to the Esplanade by Hong Kong - based artist Danny Yung - and in this instance people were even allowed to "doodle on the artwork".

I find it a bit of a conundrum - authorised graffiti is okay, but unauthorised isn't. How are the general public to know the difference? It could be argued that the painting of the trains was of the same quality as the painting of the post boxes (and at no point am I condoning the former).

And what are the people who put up the authorised versions trying to communicate? That graffiti (if done according to the rules - which is a contradiction) is art?

(For those of you who missed it, one of the posters advertising the Singapore Art festival in 2009 depicted graffiti)

Your thoughts?


Consent. :)

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Postby x9200 » Thu, 01 Jul 2010 11:22 am

There is nothing wrong in graffiti itself as with any single form of art. You simply need to respect somebody's rights and that's all. What is a difference using something you own or using something owned by other ppl? Graffiti has nothing to do with it. If the public lacks a common sense to distinguish between altering someone's property with or without the permission then bad for the public.

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Postby aster » Sat, 07 Aug 2010 3:54 pm

I think Singapore's anti-graffiti approach is spot-on as it teaches teen punks that there is will be no mercy for vandalism of any type. We could do with such stringent legislation (and a bit of caning) in other countries too. :)

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Postby curiousgeorge » Sun, 08 Aug 2010 3:38 pm

aster wrote:I think Singapore's anti-graffiti approach is spot-on as it teaches teen punks that there is will be no mercy for vandalism of any type. We could do with such stringent legislation (and a bit of caning) in other countries too. :)


Whereas I think there are inherent problems with the approach.

Firstly we have to recognise the difference between street art and painted vandalism, both of which are forms of graffiti. Graffiti just means it was done without the owner's permission.

Gahment-sanctioned "graffiti" sites totally miss the point. Not because permission is granted to graffito a particular wall or property, but because the subject of that graffito is censored. Art, in any form, fails to reflect the cultural heart-beat of a nation if it has to be sanctioned (like Speaker's Corner).

Art may question or scrutinize the gahment, the status-quo, the social ills of a society - but there is no point in permitting graffiti if the content is then censored.

The middle ground would be to establish graffiti sites, but to give free-reign to the artists' expression. QED, there is no "vandalism" but the spirit of street art is retained, at least in some small degree. But we know that is not the Singapore way...

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Postby poodlek » Sun, 08 Aug 2010 3:58 pm

All excellent points c.geo. 8-)
But I think this really one really gets to the heart of why the arts scene in Singapore is so stagnant (at least to my eyes & ears). What's the point of an artist even trying if they're just going to be subject to heavy government censorship?

curiousgeorge wrote:Gahment-sanctioned "graffiti" sites totally miss the point. Not because permission is granted to graffito a particular wall or property, but because the subject of that graffito is censored. Art, in any form, fails to reflect the cultural heart-beat of a nation if it has to be sanctioned (like Speaker's Corner).

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Postby x9200 » Sun, 08 Aug 2010 6:38 pm

You would need to find first the way to know how much of this reservation is due to the government and how much purely to the culture. I am not sure if the answer is as simple as you suggest.

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Re: Graffiti in Singapore

Postby JR8 » Sun, 08 Aug 2010 7:37 pm

carteki wrote:It seems that this topic has been in the news a great deal lately - the latest being the decoration of the underground walkway to the Esplanade by Hong Kong - based artist Danny Yung - and in this instance people were even allowed to "doodle on the artwork".


How richly ironic!

In grafffiti circles it is considered very poor form to deface or 'doodle on' someone else's handiwork.

p.s. Agree with the point well made by curiousgeorge...

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Postby poodlek » Sun, 08 Aug 2010 8:57 pm

x9200 wrote:You would need to find first the way to know how much of this reservation is due to the government and how much purely to the culture. I am not sure if the answer is as simple as you suggest.


Of course the government's reservation came from somewhere (ie. the culture) but it might behoove the culture for the government to allow some things to exist that may not be accepted by the whole population. Like the choice to see nudity/sexual situations in tv/movies for adults old enough to handle it. It doesn't mean everyone is exposed to it, just the ones that choose.

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Postby x9200 » Mon, 09 Aug 2010 8:22 am

I was not trying to justify the government's policy here but rather to point out that even with the formal censorship not being in place things would not necessary look like ppl with the Western mindsets might expect. Local culture has a lot reservation when it comes to sexual topics and this has nothing to do with the government. Another subject of the censorship is anything that would be anti-government. Basically that's it. I do not think these two limit any significantly the artists in Singapore so if there is any stagnancy this is not the censorship and the "freedom of speech" to be blamed (in my opinion at least).
The Western culture has its own reservations too not arising from any arbitrary restrictions and limiting some subjects to niche, underground position. One good example would be mixing together any sexual and religious (Christian) content.


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