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Meet Singapore’s golden girl Priyageetha Dia

Written by
Time Out Singapore editors

You’ve seen Priyageetha Dia’s golden artworks on Reddit, Stomp, Instagram but have you seen it in person? Now you can – and she doesn’t mind if you only want a selfie with it. By Charlene Fang

Priyageetha Dia with Upgraded
Charlene Fang

Residents of Block 103 Jalan Rajah are a lucky lot. Unlike other HDB blocks in the area, they’ve been “upgraded” twice in a span of a year. First, with a staircase covered in gold foil in 2017 and more recently with 24 gold mylar flags (Absent – Present 2018) hanging from the top floor. Too bad both were removed in a matter of days. 

Call it a metaphor for how local art is perceived in Singapore: undervalued and misunderstood, an ongoing issue 26-year-old Priyageetha Dia (@pxdix) strives to address with her work. Her latest exhibition Upgraded is a development from the 24 flags that was taken down. Featuring 10 gold mylar film flags emblazoned with distinct red tags (kim zua, 888, vandalism, readymade) inspired by the public’s reaction, the artwork about an artwork is Priya's latest attempt to discuss what constitutes art in Singapore.

We spoke with her at Art Porters Gallery to find out more about the show, and how joss paper and the town council ended up helping her cause.

Why the word kimzua?

That’s actually why my flags were taken down, because [people complained] they look like joss paper aka kimzua.

How long did it take for you to create Upgraded?

This took me five days. In fact, these flags were bought by the town council as compensation as they misplaced the original ones.

That’s pretty funny… so what's with the red wording?

I wanted to use fonts for its contemporary feel and red because it's linked to the identity of joss paper. Also the use of gold and red created a lot more boldness to the work.

Why the choice of gold mylar films?

It’s more to do with the material and the way it flows. I wanted to create that element of flag-ness: the way it flows with the wind, the sides, how it draws attention. I tested it with normal gold cloth but it didn’t have the same effect. This film is lightweight, floats with the wind, creates a sound and when the sunlight hits and reflects off the walls... to me it’s sublime.

How do you feel if people come away from Upgraded and say it just looks pretty?

Gold has a quality of attraction. If people look at the work and become aware of it, even if they remark “it’s gold and it looks nice”, that’s fine. 

So why do you do what you do?

As an artist, I put my work out there and love to have other artists create a conversation with my work so I know I’m not the only one out there doing it alone. I would love to create this conversation between artists in a public setting. 

So, this wasn’t just a stunt for Instagram?

No. Not at all. For me, I’m just going to do a work and put it out in public. I’m thankful for the people who complained and put it online, this is how I’m getting publicity so they’re sort of helping me.

Priyageetha Dia hosts a talk on 28 April (3pm to 4pm) at Art Porters Gallery where Upgraded is showing till 6 May. 

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