NMP hopes authorities will use a light touch on ‚ÄėSticker Lady‚Äô
It wasn’t her grandfather’s road but that didn’t stop 25-year-old Samantha Lo from attempting to inject a little humour to Singapore’s streets. Yesterday (5 June), Ms Lo was arrested for allegedly engaging in street graffiti.
Her arrest has riled up many in the online community, especially those in the arts scene.
Lo is also the founder of online magazine RCGNTN – which highlights Singaporea art – and is believed to be suspected of painting the words ‚ÄúMy Grandfather Road‚ÄĚ along Robinson Road and Maxwell Road, and putting up humourous stickers on road traffic signs.
Ms Lo, dubbed by netizens as ‚ÄėSticker Lady‚Äô, may face a jail term of up to three years or be fined up to $2,000 if found guilty of vandalism.
Nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh who represents the interests of the arts scene, said she hopes the authorities will deal with the matter using a light touch.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt see street art as being the same as graffiti or vandalism‚Ä¶ 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,‚ÄĚ she wrote on her official Facebook page.
Pointing to the city of Melbourne, she said that one of Melbourne’s main tourist attractions is street art which has been featured in Tourism Victoria‚Äôs campaigns, despite the State Government‚Äôs strict anti-graffiti laws.
Some cities, she says, choose to turn a blind eye to such cases because good street art brings colour and character to a city‚Äôs street and cultural life.
‚ÄúFor Singapore, 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,‚ÄĚ she added.
Prominent street artists remain underground and do not reveal their identities, she said, pointing to UK artist Banksy as an example.
‚ÄúUnlike Sticker Lady of course, Banksy has never been caught,‚ÄĚ she wrote.
Banksy used to be under constant threat from the UK police as he went about creating his street art fused with political messages. Today, local authorities protect his graffiti as they‚Äôre a must-see for tourists who are inclined towards the art form.
Supporters of Ms Lo have started forwarding an online petition asking for authorities to convert Ms Lo‚Äôs case from a vandalism charge to ‚Äúmiscellaneous offences (Public Order and Nuisance)‚ÄĚ which would involve a fine of up to $1,000 ‚Äď and no jail time.
There‚Äôs also a campaign in support of Ms Lo.
An arts lecturer, who did not want to be identified, said the artist‚Äôs series of work pokes fun at a segment of Singaporean society ‚Äúwhich is so self-absorbed and oblivious that they think everything is their grandfathers.”
‚ÄúThis is positive as it reminds us that there are others around us that need access to the resources that we are hording (such as) space and time. Tongue in cheek? Yes. Is it off limits or a crime? Definitely not,‚ÄĚ he said.
While there has been much support from the arts community for Ms Lo who was also a content curator for a project at The National Art Gallery, there are others who don‚Äôt think she should get a lighter sentence.
A 59-year-old entrepreneur, who did not want to be named, said no matter how clever the messages were, the woman still defaced public property.
‚ÄúIf the relevant authorities are lenient, it’ll encourage others to do likewise – perhaps even more sinister messages? The lady might have thought that she‚Äôs bringing an edgy cuteness to a rather dull Singapore, but that’s not the way to do it,‚ÄĚ he said.
An NUS political-science honours student, Ben Ho said the issue is not whether the artist‚Äôs work should be considered as art or not.
He believes if the authorities do recognise the work as art and the sentencing is lenient, it might encourage other street artists to do the same.
‚ÄúThe line between real art and true vandalism is blurred. We will have a very colourful city, loved by everyone, and no one, at the same time,‚ÄĚ he mulled.