To all the commentors online asking why SOTA’s standard of arts education is so low and questioning whether we actually learn anything in our school: Rude! Shame on you for picking on a teenager! (SKLO saga)

as a SOTA student…

um I wrote some of this on twitter but the character limit is annoying and I haven’t actually put my soapbox away yet.

Earlier today, a letter to the ST’s forum by a schoolmate of mine was published and received much flak for some of the writer’s opinions.

(  – Suspect’s ‘art’ has no value

In the letter, Darshini, a Y5 student, expressed her views on the street artist’s SKLO’s work and deemed it to be an act of vandalism.

Of course, to members of the public who feel strongly about the value of the “Sticker Lady”‘s work, it was difficult to agree with Darshini’s comments.

Personally, I disagree on the point that the work has “no value”. However, that’s not what got me riled up enough to write a note on Facebook. (and it takes a lot okay, I’m very lazy)

What bothered me was the comments left on the article and on other parts of the Internet suggesting that Darshini quit SOTA and pursue another field of study. Comments such as “it seems like you flunked art history” and “maybe you shouldn’t study art” are insensitive and unwarranted. Those comments are not only personal attacks on a student but also criticism of the standard of arts education we receive at SOTA.

As a SOTA student, I fully support Darshini’s point of view.

  • One of the first things we learn in SOTA is how to answer the question “what is art?”.
  • The simple answer to that is that it’s subjective.
  • I know it seems like a cop out sort of answer, but it really isn’t.

It’s a basic concept: one man’s meat is another man’s poison. But art doesn’t merely come down to a matter of taste; to each artist/audience member there is a different definition of art.

Early last year, in my theatre class, my teacher made us watch a series of video clips and rank them according to how performative they were, to how much they qualified as a performance. Surprise surprise, there was no consensus throughout the class. Everybody had equally valid justification to explain why they ranked one performance above another. Some of us felt that performance needed to come with purpose and intent and a clear concept. Others felt that the audience was the most important factor in creating a performance. A bunch of us were stuck somewhere in the middle. I can’t speak for students of the other disciplines but I’m assuming that music, dance and visual arts students go through the same training in their classes. We even discuss the definition of art in our academic classes and the general sentiment in the school is that we agree to disagree. There is no consensus over what is and is not art and we all know that.

(if anybody is interested in a useful discussion on the definition of art, read this:

Even established artists disagree about what qualifies and does not qualify as art. When Marcel Duchamp entered Fountain into an exhibition, many people didn’t think it met any artistic criteria. We know now that Duchamp’s work was part of the Dadaist movement that was interested in just that: questioning artistic criteria. It doesn’t just apply in the “old fashioned people understanding modern works” context. Prolific theatre director Robert Wilson doesn’t consider Broadway musicals to be very artistic, but many other people do. People disagree. That’s exactly what makes art so important – it makes people think.

So while I disagree with Darshini’s standpoint on the My Grandfather Road stencil, I respect her views and I can see where she’s coming from. She states in her letter that art needs to benefit the community and creating work on public property transgresses that boundary. Fair enough. The best part about this whole incident is the positive debate that it’s generating amongst interested parties. The worst is the nasty comments being flung about by either side.

As a SOTA student, I think Darshini did right in writing into the forum.

  • It takes a lot of courage to decide to speak up, in a public arena, about her views. That I know I have learnt from my school.
  •  The ability to have an opinion and to back it up with reasons.
  • We have disagreements but we try to do so respectfully.

 To all the commentors online asking why SOTA’s standard of arts education is so low and questioning whether we actually learn anything in our school: rude!

Besides, in many cases, you’re all older than Darshini.

She’s a 17 year old girl stating her views in a mature fashion. Shame on you for picking on a teenager!

K, that’s all I have. I’m gonna go back to watching videos of cats.

 re post from Ruby Thiagarajan 


Suspect’s ‘art’ has no value

THE recent case of a young woman being arrested for allegedly using a stencil to paint ‘My grandfather road’ on some public roads has revived the longstanding debate on whether graffiti should be considered art or vandalism (‘Artist’s arrest revives vandalism debate’; Wednesday).

As a student of the School of the Arts, this particular issue strikes close to home.

It is true that despite the Government pumping so much money into the arts scene, there continue to be restrictions on what ‘art’ should be.

Censorship is still evident in our local arts scene.

In cases where artists transgress the rules to convey relevant messages or raise issues, I am usually supportive of their endeavours.

However, in this case, the woman’s alleged actions should be treated as vandalism.

While the works are humorous, parodying Singaporean culture and Singlish, they seem to have no value whatsoever.

Furthermore, the removal of the ‘art’ from public property involved spending money, time and effort.

While the suspect’s intentions may have been light-hearted, she appears to have had no consideration for the impact that her work may have caused.

Art should serve to enhance and better a community. But the suspect’s work seems to be nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek attempt to garner public attention.

So despite the need for the Government to cultivate a more vibrant arts scene, a sense of order and structure should remain in place.

The public should not take an expanding arts scene as an excuse to break the law.

The woman should therefore be held fully accountable for her alleged actions.

Darshini Ramiah (Miss)
Published on Jun 9, 2012, Straits Times , 


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