Tuesday, June 5, 2012

#freeSKLO: You Can't Arrest an Idea

It's going more viral than the stickers themselves: Sam Lo #SKLO arrested for the street art that everyone has come to love, laugh at or appreciate in various ways. 

But it comes down to a lot more than a random street artist or young hooligan being put in her place. This is about culture, about creativity, about allowing local trailblazers to do their thing and put us on the map. It's also about stepping outside of the boundaries, looking at other "creative hubs"and seeing what causes creativity to prosper i love banksy and knowing what works.

As someone on Facebook pointed out, the penalty for drink-driving is notably more serious than for this guerilla street art. We're telling our beloved foreign talents and tourists that we care more about how we look than about how we treat our people; we want to live up to our pristine, anti-chewing gum image (but we're also really cool and creative, y'know?). Street art and face jail time,  DUI and you've got a fine and maybe they won't let you drive for a bit.

 Singapore has been trying unsuccessfully for a while to secure the image of a creative, cultural, happening place to be. We bring in top bands and artists from around the world, pay millions of dollars to keep our entertainment scene thriving, and throw in token amounts to promote local artists.

But what we've got here, thanks to skLo, is art that is entirely our own - it's Singaporean, it's DIY, and it speaks to the people who fill the streets and create our culture well the ones who have been here a while anyway.No one was offended by it. Everyone loved it. Everyone was talking about it, and thanks to the arrest, everyone will continue talking about it for a while.

What we're saying is that we want to be seen as cool without loosening the ropes: a prerequisite for actually being cool.
We want to diversify our portfolio with art and music and sport, but we will arrest those who do just that.. unless they are done in ways that have been assigned to us.
We will embrace an increasingly open arts scene where some nudity, profanity and once-taboo subjects like homosexuality can be in the spotlight, but we will shun a person's never-seen-before creativity because, well, it wasn't on the menu and you can't serve what hasn't been ordered by those on top.

Dear Ministers, Law, State and whoever else lies behind this arrest: This is the creativity you wanted. We've had it in us for a long time, and creativity presents itself whether or not you're ready for it. Look around online. The people have spoken. We're ready for it. We want her back. We're rallying for Sam.

Make the first step in your quest to be cool and for the love of all you've been allegedly aiming for, set Samantha Lo free.

More to Read:

MICA Review: Change.org

Kiss My Culture 

The Aaron Loy

CNA Reports