Art student returns golden staircase to grey concrete

PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Lasalle student Priyageetha Dia has removed the "golden staircase" which sparked a debate about art in public spaces in Singapore.

She said in a Facebook post on Sunday (March 12) morning: "The existence and the end of this work bears my responsibility and no one else's. With a little trace left behind, a memento of the space.

"Till we meet again."

The "little trace" refers to a small square of gold foil that was left on the bottom step of the stairs.

The existence and the end of this work bears my responsibility and no one else's. With a little trace left behind, a memento of the space. Till we meet again;

Posted by Priyageetha Dia on Saturday, March 11, 2017

She told The Straits Times in a text message on Sunday afternoon: "It was voluntarily removed by me, no pressure from the town council. To me, my work is already done."

Ms Priyageetha, 25, created the artwork in a Jalan Rajah HDB block for her final-year project.

She covered one flight of steps on the 20th floor of the block with gold foil last Sunday, and photos of the project were shared online since early last week.

Artist dresses up HDB staircase in gold: Yay or nay?

  • A student's decision to add some shine to her HDB block by covering a flight of stairs with gold foil has won praise online, with many netizens offering their support and encouragement. But to the authorities, all that glitters may not be gold.
  • Soon, it emerged that it was the work of Ms Priyageetha Dia, an art student at Laselle College of the Arts.
  • In a Facebook post, she wrote that while she was apprehensive of the consequences, the process of covering the stairs had been invigorating.
  • "At the end of the five-hour long hushed deed, the intervention of the gold finally reverberated against the ever lifeless and grey architecture on the 20th floor of my block."
  • She added that she considered her work as art, and not vandalism, as her intention was to enhance the space and her surroundings.
  • "My work does not seek to obliterate a public space; vandalism in all sense has no respect for another individual," Ms Priyageetha wrote.
  • Many online professed to liking the blinged-up stairs.
  • Former Nominated MP Janice Koh also weighed in with her support.
  • Not everyone was as enamoured, however.
  • Some netizens were worried that the stairs would be slippery with the covering.
  • The Jalan Besar Town Council told Today that while it appreciated Ms Priyageetha's desire to enhance the space, her act "constitutes an unauthorised act and is thus not permissible".
  • However, a spokesman did extend an olive branch, saying that the council wants to "explore ways in which we may be able to work together".
  • Photos of the golden staircase at the HDB block in Jalan Rajah first emerged on Reddit two days ago, while citizen journalism website Stomp also caught wind of the matter.

Some called the act vandalism, while others have defended it as "guerilla art".

In an interview with The Sunday Times, she said: "As an artist, I wonder why everything needs to be licensed. If I (had sought) permission, there wouldn't be a thrill in doing it; I need that adrenaline rush in my art-making process."

The Jalan Besar Town Council had said earlier that the act was unauthorised under the town council's by-laws, but had made no move to remove the foil.

Read also: The Internet thinks this gold staircase is a brilliant idea, even though authorities don't

Gold stairs earn praise but are out of step with rules

This article was first published on Mar 12, 2017.
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