'Welcome to Jingapore' mural a wordplay on artist's name, not misspelling, says LTA

The title of the artwork was a play on the artist's name, and not a misspelling.
The title of the artwork was a play on the artist's name, and not a misspelling.PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/JING QUEK, MARK TAN TK

SINGAPORE - Welcome To Jingapore, reads an explanatory plaque for a two-part artwork installed at two new stations on the Downtown Line.

The line, which was a play on words, drew flak from netizens, with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) receiving feedback that the term "Jingapore" appeared to be a misspelling.

The Art in Transit work by local artist Jing Quek was made up of two collages installed at Tampines West and Tampines East stations, LTA told The Straits Times on Thursday (Nov 9).

The pieces feature images of people, places and objects found near those two stations.

"The title 'Welcome to Jingapore' is a wordplay on the artist's name," said the LTA spokesman. "By combining his name 'Jing' and 'Singapore', the work was an attempt by the artist to portray Singapore through his eyes."

The Chinese word "Jing" has several meanings, including scenery and sights.

LTA said it is in discussions with the artist, and the explanatory plaques that accompanied the murals have been temporarily removed. However, the art pieces continue to be displayed at the stations.

Photos of the plaque went viral this week. Facebook user Mark Tan Tk posted a photo of it on Tuesday, writing in Chinese: "Is it real or fake? Why is it Jingapore not Singapore?"

The artist himself posted an explanation on Wednesday night, saying it was brought to his attention "that some people raised a fuss about the title of my artwork".

Mr Quek wrote that he has "proudly waved the Singapore flag showcasing images of everyday Singaporeans in competitions, advertising campaigns and exhibitions all over the world, from Jakarta to France, from USA, to Italy, to Japan".

He added that contributing to the Art in Transit effort was "the highest honour and number one dream in his artistic career bucket list".

For his artwork, he photographed almost 500 Tampines residents over the course of a year.

"In life, we have choices. The Internet gives us an easy outlet to express ourselves behind a keyboard," he wrote. "We can choose to be upset and burn with anger at all the perceived wrongs against us, and lash out and find fault in everything, even in obvious puns. Or we can choose to appreciate life's small blessings and joys, and also the things that our government agencies do to make life a little bit sweeter for all of us."

When contacted by ST, Mr Quek declined to comment further on the issue.

The 34-year-old spent more than a decade in photography and switched to setting up his automation and vending solutions company Konbini about three years ago.

Mr Quek has previously shared with ST about another Jingapore series.

In 2012, he spoke to Life! about his Jingapore photo series, which is a reimagining of Singapore through his works.

Some of the works, including photos and videos, were displayed then in the Singapore Art Museum.

In his Facebook response to the furore, he wrote: "Jingapore is my artistic vision of Singapore, where all of us are super stars, super models, immortalised on billboards, filled with positivity and optimism, striving hard to achieve our dreams."