SINGAPORE- Street artists in Singapore will be able to practise their craft in a new space next year, but not all of them are keen on it.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority said yesterday that it had partnered the National Arts Council to create a temporary, independent art space for street artists. It will set aside two walls beneath the Commonwealth Avenue viaduct structure along the Rail Corridor as blank slates for them for a year.
But several artists here said the idea of officially approved spaces runs counter to the spirit of street art. "Street art in essence is transgressive, and this must be protected," said Mr Noor Effendy Ibrahim, 40, artistic director of The Substation, an independent arts centre which has commissioned and exhibited street art.
A better approach, he suggested, would be to loosen the regulations so that artists can approach residents and communities directly to use their spaces as canvases.
But the curators of the new space - urban art collective RSCLS, pronounced Rascals - do not expect any limitations on the works of art.
Its founder Mohammed Zulkarnaen Othman or Zero - like many street artists, the 34-year-old goes by a funky nickname - said the community is generally aware of the responsibilities in depicting sensitive issues such as religion and race.
"As long as it does not involve installing or nailing anything on the walls, as and when an artist wants to paint something at the area, he or she can just drop RSCLS a message and that's it," he said.
Currently, other places where street artists can ply their trade include the Somerset Skate Park, the graffiti walls at the youth- oriented mall *Scape and the National Youth Council in Toa Payoh, a curated wall at The Substation, Bukit Batok skate park and a wall at Labrador Park.
Spray paint other walls or public property without permission of its owners and it becomes vandalism, which is punishable with a fine of up to $2,000, a jail term of up to three years and not more than eight strokes of the cane.
Street artist Adam Wang, 29, who goes by Dem, said the new Rail Corridor space may signal the Government's growing acceptance of the craft.
"For many years, we've been asking for space. This shows that they see street art as something that is a bit more valuable now," he added.
Full-time artist Muhammad Khairy Ishak, or Myow, said the Rail Corridor space could be used to help educate the public about street art.
"Personally, it doesn't matter to me whether the Government is involved or not. As long as it is on the street, it is street art," said the 27-year-old.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.