“Which one should I go?” I asked myself.
I’m torn between the Aliwall festival and the island festival, where one is about arts and the other, performance arts.
I looked left and right literally as both registration booths are opposite each other.
“Y’know what, I’ll go for something different”, I told myself.
I walked towards the mural tour registration and drop my details over. And before I know it; 10 mins later, we are all given light sticks, grouped and we are on our way!
It was rather dark so the photos of the amazing mural couldn’t really be captured, but I’d wish you guys are there to see for yourself nevertheless.
The guy who introduced himself as “Antz”, from RSCLS bought us onto his rabbit hole of a journey, where he’d start tagging, slapping the society with colours. It was a total eye opener when he gave us some insights about how graffiti communities came about and were like. From competitive territorial plays to eventually forming and creating communities, I could only imagine how dramatic yet surreal this journey could be.
Imagine being outlaws and misfits, and your art was barely recognised back in the days as they’re only known as illegal scribbles that went against social stigmas, laws and even Asian taboos of being an artist. But they scream their way into our society, making their voices heard.
It was at the very least courageous, in my opinion as a struggling artist myself. I didn’t have the best environment to cultivate this passion of mine and it is thanks to the internet that I’m able to create my very own safe space (here) where I could conservatively share, create works that could exist in the realm of the internet. It was such a safe play compared to graffiti artists creating their own space out there, tagging walls making them heard and known.
I’d earn newfound respect for graffiti artists and their arts.
Born from the streets, these arts are basically everywhere and I’d only get to know them through urban exploration, where I looking in awe as these artists are here, existing in possibly the same era or generation but another time. The walls still smell fresh of paint get the dust and decay gave a really raw finishing touch, blending the art together with the building and nature itself. It was a whole different palette from what I usually see in museums and galleries. I traced my line of vision across the walls like an archaeologist who found a large piece of caveman glyphs and painting as I hover my torch over, snapping photos as I take the art in.
Alex Face was one of the first graffiti artists that I came across during my road trip in Thailand.
Antz also shared about certain hierarchy and idolism, from how fellow graffiti artists also have their own idols, collecting stickers and autographs from revered artists for their very own personal collection; or a Pokédex of graffiti art. Antz also shared the story of his amazing works which really adds alot of dimension to him as a tour guide. His trademark spirit animal would probably be the monkey, which gave me an impression of his mischief back in the days to using the wit for creatives. And who doesn't love some Sun Wu Kong? :3
I really really love how he pay homage to the trees that were being removed to make way for developments as he created an artwork that also comes with a wordplay using the chinese character of tree to replace the character of art which have the same pronunciation.
It was really candid and heartwarming to be able to talk, connect and learn from them. Especially “Zero” which I’d like to add on bear the end where he shared his stories of the murals across the walls of the mosque, that was painstakingly created, well thought that shared sang the tunes of the unsung stories which sadly became so controversial that it was removed. A master in fine arts, zero was incredibly smart as I get to pick abit of his brains while he shared with me some of his art direction and his thoughts about more sensitive issues like race and culture in our society which made me feel only that I might have been alittle too ignorant or uninformed. There are a lot of cultural blind spots that we have, and being in a multicultural country like Singapore only makes me feel that we should be more accepting and aware of our cultural differences. And I’m glad we are somewhat functioning in peace without any racial disputes.
How Samsui women might have transformed into something more modernised like the foreign laborers that build our cities today, or hawkers carrying the food industry in our country, how our names will always be the markers of our existence, how we draw our lives on the walls, just like cavemen, or like how I eventually blog. Perhaps it is in us to tell stories, to weave tales that would be timeless and exist across the cosmo beyond our lifetime; those are some of the thoughts and perspectives that I’d gained that night.
It was an amazing night learning from both of them, but it wasn’t all just that for me as I also have connected with a social worker and a photographer whom only made my night a little more fulfilled! The perfect cherry on top to end the night.