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Title: Spacing Beyond the Lines: Graffiti's Place in the Singapore City-State
Authors: KOH ZONG QI
Issue Date: 2-Apr-2018
Citation: KOH ZONG QI (2018-04-02). Spacing Beyond the Lines: Graffiti's Place in the Singapore City-State. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between material space and the transgressive quality of graffiti. Using the case of Singapore, I argue that graffiti, when produced in a legal space, generally loses its inherently transgressive quality. Using Michel de Certeau’s concept of “strategies and tactics”, I establish the state as the architect of Singapore, purposefully organizing urban space with the strategy of materializing bureaucratic imaginings of the citystate. I then situate graffiti as a tactic that threatens the dominant imposed order. The state’s responses to these acts of transgression, however, does not involve simply stifling graffiti. It also includes the creation of legal practice spaces for artists to utilise, exhibiting graffiti in formal spaces like art galleries, and commissioning street art murals. While these strategies effectively remove the transgressive quality of graffiti, I note that graffiti making in legal spaces is not at all meaningless for graffiti artists; the state’s strategies only deal with graffiti’s transgressive element and not its expressive component. State-sanctioned graffiti can still be used as a tool for self-expression. Overall, there has been a positive change in both state and public attitudes towards graffiti, signifying a promising growth of the street art scene in Singapore.
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses (Restricted)

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