Feb 14 2012
For many people, graffiti is one of the banes of modern urban life, nothing more than an act of vandalism. For others, it is an art form in its own right, deserving of encouragement not approbation. Like any large city, Kuala Lumpur has its fair share of ugly, disfiguring graffiti. But it also has a surprisingly liberal attitude towards genuine street art.
The best example of the latter can be found at a stretch of the River Klang by Pasar Seni LRT station. The rows of graffiti that can be seen here are the product of KUL Sign 2010, the city’s first festival of urban art.
The massive wall paintings have brought much needed colour and energy to what was formerly one of KL’s drabbest public spaces.
Over recent weeks much of this art has been covered in whitewash, not as part of an official crackdown, but to prepare the ground for KUL Sign 2012. As well as various graffiti-themed events, such as demonstrations and workshops, the festival will include live music; breakdancing; street photography; BMX bike and skateboard displays; and a flea market.
Activities will be focussed in two main areas — in front of Central Market, and across the road, by Pasar Seni LRT station. The organisers expect 25,000 people to attend the two-day event (February 25 and 26, 10:00 onwards; admission free). Although the festival is aimed primarily at young Malaysians, tourists are more than welcome to attend. For more information about both this event, and other street art in KL, follow this link.
KUL Sign 2012 is fully backed by KL’s local governing body, DBKL; instead of demonising graffiti in all its forms, it has chosen to give the city’s street artists a legal canvas to work on. Whether this sensible attitude will survive the planned transformation of KL’s waterways is far from certain though, as street art and high end commercial/residential developments do not tend to go hand in hand.
POSTSCRIPT: Here’s a post-festival link, which gives a flavour of what went on. You can still see the artwork too at the festival site itself.
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