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

Residents of Block 108, Jalan Rajah were greeted by the sight of gold flags hanged at the parapets on every floor of the 24-story block for the past three days. 

However, the flags have been removed by the Besar Town Council on Wednesday afternoon (March 21) after some residents complained that the flags complained that they were reminiscent of joss paper. 

Several Stompers had alerted Stomp to the gold flags, thinking that the flags were placed for a particular event. 

It turns out that the mylar flags were the latest work of freelance artist, Priyageetha Dia, 26.

She came under the spotlight when she pasted gold foil on a flight of steps in the same block, generating a debate about art in public spaces. 

Dr Lily Neo, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, told The Straits Times that the flags had to be removed because some residents had complained that they looked like joss paper often associated with offerings to the dead, and were thus considered inauspicious.

Dr Neo added that the town council was not aware of Ms Dia’s project, but were open to working with the artist in the future. 

She said:

“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.”

Dr Neo stressed that the HDB is a common space shared by people with differing views on art, and are affected by different cultural sensitivities.

She continued:

“We have different places where art can be shown, such as through wall murals, which may be more suitable.”

Ms Dia later spoke to The Straits Times, explaining that she had used gold, an alluring material to draw people’s attention to everyday items such as a housing block.

Said Ms Dia:

"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.”

Asked how she felt about the town council removing her work, she replied candidly:

“I knew it would happen at some point, so I'm quite neutral about it.”

Ms Dia also expressed interest to work with the town council in her future project.