Saturday, 16 November 2013
As if it was so easy to whitewash out crime
Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic who had made such a name for himself in George Town, Penang with his endearing street artworks has suddenly found himself wading into controversy. Instead of expecting accolade from government authorities, he received criticism for his latest artwork at the opposite end of the peninsula.
"We are not amused," harumped the Johore Bharu city council, obviously with nostrils flaring. "Not only will such work portray the state in a negative light, but it will also instil fear among passersby," sniffed a public relations person from the council. An ironical statement, no doubt, because I have always regarded Johore Bahru as a cowboy town, one of the top petty crime hotspots in Malaysia.
(When I had to go to Johore Bahru with my sister in January this year, I made pretty sure that she stayed close to me when we walked the short distance from the JB Sentral to Jalan Segget. Though it was a bright mid-morning, I could feel all the bad vibes around me. I only heaved a sigh of relief when we made it to the bus that took us back to Woodlands, Singapore.)
This was the original painting depicting two Lego characters that had appeared on the walls of a derelict building in Taman Molek in downtown Johore Bahru sometime around the first week of November. Fifth of November? Seventh of November? Who knows...
Anyway, by the end of the week, it had already gotten the council's goat. Come the 14th of November, barely two weeks after its appearance on the walls, the paintings had disappeared, completely whitewashed out by some council workers. As if it was so easy to whitewash out crime....