Occasionally censorship and draconian punishment can backfire and work in an artist’s favor. That’s certainly the case for Singapore’s Samantha Lo, otherwise known as SKL0, who went from facing jail time for her lighthearted street art to touring the world for gallery shows and mural commissions.
SKL0 never expected to become an artist. Before the whole uproar, she had studied food science and didn’t know what she wanted out of life. Street art caught her attention in 2008 when she started a blog about art in Singapore called RCGNTN. At first, she didn’t plan on joining the ranks of those she covered, but after a little while, she started slapping stickers around Haji Lane (a popular spot with the young crowd) to promote her website. That eventually evolved into stickers with humorous one-liners and observations about life in Singapore.
有些时候，艺术家如果遭受了“审查”和惩罚，反而更可能会让他们因祸得福。就像新加坡艺术家 Samantha Lo 的经历正是如此。她以 SKL0 的名字为人熟知，曾经因为自己出于好玩创作的街头艺术而面临牢狱之灾，也因此获得在世界各地的画廊巡回展览和壁画创作邀请的机会。
SKL0 从未想过会成为一名艺术家。在一切变得沸沸扬扬之前，她就读食品科学专业，还不知道自己到底想要怎么样的生活。2008 年，她开启了一个有关新加坡艺术的博客 RCGNTN，并从那时起开始关注街头艺术。起初，她并没有打算加入这些她所报导的艺术家行列，但没过多久，她开始在当地的哈芝巷（Haji Lane，青年文化的集中地）四处张贴贴纸，以宣传自己的博客。后来，她又在这些贴纸上添加了关于新加坡生活的一些有趣见解。
The stickers went viral and got her some attention, but it wasn’t until she stenciled the words “My Grandfather Road” on the ground in 2012 that her life changed. The phrase itself is just a play on the local saying “your grandfather’s road,” which is commonly used to tell off other drivers. Yet it sparked an investigation that led to an arrest, international media attention, and ultimately a brand new career.
这些贴纸后来被网友疯传，她因此获得了一些关注。直到 2012 年，因为那一句印在地上的“我爷爷的路”（My Grandfather Road），她的生活迎来了巨大的转折点。这句话本身只是从“你爷爷的路”衍化而来，当地人用来惩戒其他司机的一种说法。然而，这句话招致政府部门对她的调查，之后的逮捕，来自国际媒体的关注，以及最终让她走上了新的职业生涯。
“I was at home, upstairs in my room playing Grand Theft Auto, when my mom called from downstairs. I thought she wanted me to do some chores,” SKL0 recalls with a laugh. “I went down and saw six officers standing in our living room.” The police searched her room in their three-story home on the outskirts of the city and found all the evidence they needed to book her. “I spent about 22 hours at the station, but they were very nice about it. They said they liked my work and apologized for handcuffing me.”
She was charged with mischief and faced up to two years in jail for a couple of stencils spray-painted on the pavement. But people were outraged that someone was facing prison time for harmless works of art.
“我当时正呆在家里，在房间里玩《侠盗猎车手》（Grand Theft Auto）。我妈妈在楼下喊我，我还以为她要我帮忙做家务。” SKL0 笑着回忆道。“我下楼，看见六名警察站在我家的客厅。”这是幢郊区小三层房子，警察们搜遍了她的房间，找到所有足以带她走的相关证据。“我在警察局待了大概 22 个小时，但他们对我挺好的。他们说很喜欢我的作品，还为了给我带手铐而道歉。”
Before SKL0, street art in Singapore was generally relegated to alleyways and hidden spaces, but now the public was confronted with how the law impacted creative expression. Foreign vandals have been dealt harsher penalties for less defensible actions. But this case made waves because it involved a young, local artist who was seemingly caught in the system for making people smile. “It was such a high profile case that a lot of lawyers approached me on a pro bono basis,” SKL0 says. “It was so crazy, I was in the media for like a week. Established brands were even cashing in on my designs by selling them.” People surged to her defense and filed a petition with some 15,000 signatures protesting her punishment. A minister even asked for her sentence to be reduced.
在 SKL0 出现之前，新加坡的街头艺术通常都只能在隐密小巷或遮蔽的空间里进行。 而现在，公众开始思考法律如何影响创意表达的问题。有一些蓄意破坏公共财产的外国人，会因为这些“无正当理由的罪行”而受到严厉惩罚。但 SKL0 的案件反映的是一名当地青年因为一些幽默创作而被政府逮捕。“我的案件获得了很多关注，有很多律师找到我要为我无偿服务。” SKL0 说，“真是太疯狂了，我在媒体上被报道了将近一个星期。甚至还有品牌用我的设计来卖产品。”支持她的声浪不断涌入，人们提交了请愿书以期政府减轻对她的惩罚，最后一共获得了约 15000 份签名。甚至有某名部长为她出面以求减刑。
Ultimately, a year after her initial arrest, she was sentenced to just 240 hours of community service and fined $4,000 SGD, which she paid partly by selling T-shirts and collecting donations. “The rest I paid off with the commission opportunities I got after the case,” she says with a triumphant smile.
Opportunities came flowing in. The only problem was that SKL0 didn’t really consider herself an artist due to her minimal experience. She ended up spending an entire year learning new techniques, hoping to not be pigeonholed into the stickers and stencils that made her famous. Her artistic growth is evident in her body of work, which has expanded into sculptures, murals, and more. She’s shown a talent for using visual languages that viewers are familiar with in order to ask new questions.
Today, about a third of her works are funded by the government, and she works full-time as an artist. Her unlikely trajectory to success proves that sometimes what may seem like a stroke of bad luck can actually be a blessing in disguise.
在被逮捕一年后，最终她被判处 240 小时的社区服务和罚款 4000 新币。她靠卖 T 恤和募集捐款支付了部分罚款。“这次事件之后，我获得了很多工作邀请，我用赚的钱支付了其余罚款。”她带着胜利的笑容说道。
Contributor: Mike Steyels
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li
供稿人: Mike Steyels
英译中: Olivia Li