Artist Lee Wen and SportSG resolve dispute over horseshoe-shaped ping-pong table

The horseshoe-shaped ping-pong table at the Sports Hub. -- PHOTO: TAN PIN PIN
The horseshoe-shaped ping-pong table at the Sports Hub. -- PHOTO: TAN PIN PIN
The installation by prominent Singapore artist Lee Wen. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE ART MUSEUM
The installation by prominent Singapore artist Lee Wen. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE ART MUSEUM

The issue of a horseshoe-shaped table tennis table spotted at this year's SEA Games carnival - resembling an art installation by prominent Singapore artist Lee Wen - has been resolved amicably.

The Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) has agreed to make a goodwill payment to the Cultural Medallion recipient.

Singsoc's vendor will also produce a version of Lee's original artwork to present to the 57- year-old for donation to a museum.

The resolution was announced on June 12 in a statement by Singsoc, its vendor Unusual Productions, Lee and his gallery iPreciation. The parties acknowledged that the table resembled Lee's iconic artwork Ping-Pong Go Round.

"Singsoc and Unusual Productions fully recognise the importance of protecting creative intellectual property in Singapore, and have no intention to do otherwise," the statement said.

The table at the centre of the controversy - formerly located at the OCBC Square at the Sports Hub Singapore - was removed on June 6. Since then, Singsoc and Unusual Productions have met with Lee and iPreciation.

According to the statement, Unusual Productions has also agreed to produce an edition of Lee's art piece, under his supervision and according to his specifications.

This will then be presented to Lee, for him to donate to a museum in Singapore for the public to enjoy.

Ms Helina Chan, 51, who owns the gallery representing Lee, told The Sunday Times: "It's a good outcome. We appreciate that the parties have been sincere and active in seeking a resolution to this matter.

"Lee Wen and the gallery also appreciate the support of the artistic community and public. We are glad that this incident has taken a positive turn in raising the issue of the lack of awareness and respect of intellectual property rights in Singapore."

After the incident made headlines, a letter carrying 229 signatures was sent to the media earlier last week, asking for more to be done to respect and protect artistic creation in Singapore.

One of its signatories, former arts Nominated MP Audrey Wong, 47, said on June 13: "It's good that all parties have come to a resolution, and that Lee Wen is credited as the original author of the work.

"I hope this incident has raised awareness among organisations and individuals who commission works regarding the importance of recognising an artist's originality and giving credit when it is due.

"This is a very real but complex issue. More public education on it is needed."

bang@sph.com.sg