An art project to add some bling to a dingy flight of stairs in a block of public flats in Singapore has gotten the attention it wanted.
Predictably, the local authorities are unimpressed, calling it “unauthorised.”
Art student Priyageetha Dia, who is studying fine arts at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore, revealed her work of art on Facebook.
She said it took five hours for the “hushed deed,” after pondering whether to do it for a month.
Priyageetha’s hesitation is understandable. Singapore has severe penalties for what it considers vandalism — which could easily extend to street art as well.
Vandals who are convicted could face up to three years in jail and fines of up to SGD $2,000 ($1,414). Men can also face eight strokes of the cane.
A town council spokesman for Priyageetha’s district told local reporters that while they appreciated her work of art, it was nonetheless “unauthorised.”
While it doesn’t appear that an official police record has been lodged, town council officials did visit the steps to see if the gold foil posed a slipping hazard. Officials made no statement as to whether the gold foil would be removed either, the Straits Times reported.
Priyageetha said on Facebook post that she considered this a work of art and not vandalism. “I do believe [that] I did not deface anything,” she wrote. “What I did was to enhance the space and my surroundings.”
“This work provokes,” she added. “Provokes in all sense; we are used to living the standard way of life, and all of a sudden something as glaring as gold negotiates the space. My work does not seek to obliterate a public space; vandalism in all sense has no respect for another individual.”
Meanwhile, netizens are debating the steps on Reddit, where they were discovered by a Redditor:
Singaporeans first tried to guess why the steps were made in the first place.
Some supported the idea that the stairs were vandalism, and debated the safety issues surrounding the golden staircase.
There were others who defended Priyageetha’s art:
Singapore hasn’t had the best record of supporting street artists. In 2012, police arrested artist Samantha Lo — known by the moniker SKL0 — who stuck messages on public property:
Lo was eventually charged with mischief, and sentenced to 240 hours of community service.
Mashable has reached out to Priyageetha for comment.