Some reactions to artist’s golden staircase in Jalan Besar is why S’pore might never art

Where art thou art?

By Mandy How | March 8, 2017

If you’ve ever thought our HDB flats look a little drab and dreary, one of the flats in Jalan Besar has got the bling on.

Priyageetha Dia, a student from Lasalle, has gilded a flight of stairs on the 20th floor of Block 103 Jalan Rajah.

Source: Priyageetha Dia Facebook
Source: Priyageetha Dia Facebook

Her golden staircase work of art is accompanied by a thoughtful exposition on the thin line between art and vandalism, seeing that her project makes use of the public space.

In essence, she considers it art because her work “does not seek to obliterate a public space, [while] vandalism in all sense has no respect for another individual”.

Her full post is as follows:

golden stairs fb post 1 golden stairs fb post 2


Response from the Jalan Besar Town Council, however, has not been favourable.

According to Today, a town council spokesperson called the work “unauthorised” and “not permissible”, as it violates the Town Council’s Common Property and Open Spaces By-laws.

The good news is, there may be potential for future collaboration between the two as the town council has reached out to the artist.

People of the internet, as always, are divided on the project. Many have supported Priya on her post, and even provided suggestions on how to take her work further:

golden stairs supportive

golden stairs supportive 2

golden stairs supportive 3


Others, however, are less than encouraging:

golden stairs not so encouraging

golden stairs not so encouraging 2

golden stairs not so encouraging 3


But for those who are concerned, you’ll be pleased to know that the stairs are not slippery:

golden stairs not slippery


In the midst of the raging debate about art and vandalism, this incident appears highly reminiscent of Samantha Lo (aka Sticker Lady), circa 2012.

Once arrested for stencilling “My Grandfather Road” on the streets and pasting stickers on public spaces, she has since collaborated with the organisers of a street carnival to officially re-create, on large scale, the very same thing she was penalised for.

my grandfather road
Source: Nookmag Facebook

Regardless of the slippery definitions and fluid boundaries between art and vandalism, expressions like these challenge the monotony of everyday life enough to spark conversation.

And that’s saying something — not just about the project’s contentious status, but also about our outlook.

Because artists working with the authorities can sometimes reek of selling out.


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About Mandy How

Mandy is a pantry rat. She eats everything in the pantry (except other people's food).

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