Singapore Kindness Movement urges calm in controversy over "kill stray cats" flyers

A cat at the void deck of a HDB block in Toa Payoh. The Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) has called for calm and reflection, after fur flew over a controversial art work that seemed to advocate the culling of stray cats. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
A cat at the void deck of a HDB block in Toa Payoh. The Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) has called for calm and reflection, after fur flew over a controversial art work that seemed to advocate the culling of stray cats. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) has called for calm and reflection, after fur flew over a controversial art work that seemed to advocate the culling of stray cats.

The SKM said on on Facebook on Monday that it had supported an exhibition at the recently concluded Singapore Night Festival in which visitors were shown flyers that appeared to advise them to "kill stray cats".

It added: "We would like to encourage everyone to spend a little time to reflect upon the issue, and the context, before commenting. In particular, we ask that we all refrain from personally attacking the participating artists, which is not a constructive means of voicing disapproval of the exhibition."

The controversial flyer caused an uproar on Sunday night, setting the stage for what looked to be a catfight between animal lovers and the art community. An image of a poster was shared on social media, with posts by Voices for Animals, Cat Welfare Society (CWS) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) condemning it drawing varied and sometimes heated comments from the public.

"We find it difficult to understand how the advocacy of such heinous acts can ever be termed art or on what basis this flyer was included in the programming of the Night Festival this year," CWS wrote.

 

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Vertical Submarine, the art collective behind the exhibition, stepped in to explain the intention behind the poster, which was one of a series that showed "intentionally distressing and morally questionable messages", including lying to loved ones and committing adultery.

"Satirical didactics were used throughout the show with the intention to provoke reflection within the arch of the Eville exhibition. The flyers were one such device and this would have been clear if the exhibition had been viewed in its entirety, rather than looking at one flyer outside of its context."

The group added that the flyers had not been distributed but were scattered as part of the performance. "We do not advocate or condone the killing of stray cats. On the contrary, we are pleased that the issue of cat abuse is highlighted."

CWS and SPCA later tried to temper simmering tensions by apologising and clarifying on their original posts that they had not fully understood the context of the flyer.

"This flyer has, however, come out at a time when cat abuse cases have increased in frequency and it has hit a very raw nerve with the cat loving community," CWS wrote.