Artist’s guerrilla gold flag installation piece in the heartlands gets shut down by residents’ complaints

Photo: Patorikku / Facebook
Photo: Patorikku / Facebook

Priyageetha Dia — the artist who covered a flight of stairs at an HDB block in Jalan Rajah with gold foil last year — has struck (gold) once again.

Just like the last time, Priyageetha set up her installation art piece at an HDB block, with 24 gold flags hung from the parapets on each level. The gold mylar sheets started fluttering from the parapets of Block 103 Jalan Rajah from Sunday, but it was yesterday that the Jalan Besar Town Council stepped in to remove the beautiful emblems. Foiled again!

It was cultural superstition that took priority over aesthetic elegance this time. The Straits Times reported that Jalan Besar GRC MP Dr. Lily Neo received complaints from residents who kicked up a stink over the fact that Priyageetha’s gold flags looked like golden joss paper. It’s inauspicious, they said, because joss paper is associated with offerings made to the deceased in traditional Chinese funerals.

Speaking to ST, Dr. Neo stressed that HDB blocks are common spaces where folks have different views and tastes of what art is, and cultural sensitivities have to be taken into consideration. Nonetheless, the MP hoped to work with Priyageetha to “find a suitable place to exhibit her art” for future projects — an endeavor the artist herself expressed interested in.


“Love the hate”

In her own statement to ST, Priyageetha said that she knew the purge had to happen eventually. The reason for the usage of eye-catching gold sheets was to “draw people’s attention to an everyday feature such as a housing block”, the freelance artist explained.

But some folks just aren’t down with her artistic antics, putting down her efforts to liven up the Jalan Besar neighborhood.

The theme of shiny gold foil is pervasive in her works — the last guerrilla installation she did was to produce an artistic contrast against the “ever lifeless and grey architecture”.

Unlike the last one, where Priyageetha voluntarily removed the gold foil from the staircase, the Town Council was the one that put an end to this piece after a few days. She witnessed Town Council workers removing her artwork and remains “quite neutral” about the whole thing. Nothing gold can stay, anyway.

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