What neighbours say

Some call it vandalism but many residents disagree

The gold-foiled staircase at a Housing Board block in Jalan Rajah by art student Priyageetha Dia.
The gold-foiled staircase at a Housing Board block in Jalan Rajah by art student Priyageetha Dia. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

The gold-foiled staircase at a Housing Board block in Jalan Rajah has its residents split over whether it should be considered art or vandalism.

The Sunday Times interviewed 14 neighbours of Ms Priyageetha Dia, who had created the golden staircase. Most define vandalism as "something that is ugly or that destroys things", as civil servant Caris Chan, 24, put it. Thus, although they believe Ms Dia should have sought authorisation for using the common staircase, two-thirds of the interviewees did not think her endeavour was vandalism.

Ms Chan said: "It is tasteful. And her intention was to beautify (an) everyday space."

Ms Chan's approving sentiment was shared by Ms Tiffany Tan, 22, a freelancer, who described the work as "a good way to show how the arts scene in Singapore is growing".

However, there were also some residents who opposed Ms Dia's creation.

 
 

Mr Chiang Kok Chye, 56, an odd-job worker,was adamant that Ms Dia's work is "absurd". He protested in Mandarin: "There is nothing artistic or special about it; it's just gold foil."

Mr Chiang also compared the golden staircase with graffiti, saying: "This is government property. She can't do as she pleases."

Meanwhile, a resident who works in sales and wanted to be known only as Mr T. T., 40, believes the difference between art and vandalism is nuanced. He said the work is "very nice" because of its golden sheen, but not if Ms Dia had "poured tar on the stairs".

Despite the dissent, the staircase continues to attract a steady stream of visitors, including residents from other neighbourhoods.

Mr Melcher Tan, 28, an educational therapist who lives in MacPherson GRC, enthusiastically declared: "In fact, I won't mind if she does something similar in my estate."

Zhao Jiayi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 12, 2017, with the headline 'Some call it vandalism but many residents disagree'. Print Edition | Subscribe