Golden flags put up by 'gold foil' artist removed by Jalan Besar Town Council over complaints

The 24 sheets of gold - one hung from every floor, except the ground - had been put up on March 18, 2018, by freelance artist Priyageetha Dia.
The 24 sheets of gold - one hung from every floor, except the ground - had been put up on March 18, 2018, by freelance artist Priyageetha Dia.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
The 24 sheets of gold - one hung from every floor, except the ground - had been put up on March 18, 2018, by freelance artist Priyageetha Dia.
The 24 sheets of gold - one hung from every floor, except the ground - had been put up on March 18, 2018, by freelance artist Priyageetha Dia.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - For the past three days, residents at Block 108, Jalan Rajah were greeted by the sight of gold flags fluttering from the parapets of the block - but not any more.

The flags were removed by the Jalan Besar Town Council on Wednesday afternoon (March 21), after other residents complained that they looked like joss paper.

The 24 sheets of gold - one hung from every floor, except the ground - had been put up on Sunday (March 18) by freelance artist Priyageetha Dia, 26.

The artist last year generated debate about art in public spaces in Singapore when she pasted gold foil on a flight of steps in the same block. Ms Dia removed the gold foil of her own accord a few days later.

On Wednesday afternoon, however, it was the town council that stepped in.

Dr Lily Neo, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, told The Straits Times that the mylar flags had to be removed as other residents had complained that the gold sheets looked like joss paper. Joss paper, usually associated with offerings made to the dead at funerals, are considered inauspicious by certain groups.

Dr Neo said the town council was not aware of Ms Dia's latest project.

"In the future, we hope to work with Ms Dia to find a suitable place to exhibit her art whenever she has something new planned," said Dr Neo.

She stressed that an HDB block is a common space shared by people with different views about what art is, especially when it comes to cultural sensitivities. "We have different places where art can be shown, such as through wall murals, which may be more suitable," she said.

Ms Dia told ST she had used gold, an eye-catching, alluring material, to draw people's attention to an everyday feature such as a housing block.

 

"I could have done this at a private estate or a condominium, but an HDB block is iconic to the Singapore identity. The whole idea is to draw attention and get people to think about something that is often considered ordinary and overlooked," said Ms Dia.

She said that she saw town council workers removing her artwork.

She said: "I knew it would happen at some point, so I'm quite neutral about it."

Ms Dia added that she was keen to work with the town council on future projects.