Was in Penang over the weekend to visit my paternal grandmother as well as reconnect to the place I was once familiar with. A lot has changed in Georgetown over the past few years, yet nothing has changed in most parts of Penang.
It doesn’t take long to notice the number of tourist friendly attractions, the number of tourists, the numerous cafes and hipster joints popping up all over Georgetown- it is slowly changing to become the art attraction that it is striving to be. Though looking to be a positive change in terms of tourism, economy, awareness and exposure of street art, increase in jobs created, a general feeling of loss was also felt. As I walked down Chew Jetty (a heritage area, a little way down and similar to Armenian Street), it wasn’t hard to notice that people lived here on the water; it was a personal space. Even though some residents set up shop and benefited from the tourists walking through their homes, there were signs on some homes which said “No Photography”. Other shops around the nooks and crannies of Georgetown had signs saying “No Tourists When Work is in Operation”. It is also interesting to note the number of murals in Georgetown especially Armenian Street, which are mostly commissioned. Non-commissioned pieces were swiftly removed by authorities (my tag was removed in 2 days) in the heritage/ tourist-y places while others stayed.
Though there was plenty of street art around and I should be happy, I couldn’t help but feel conflicted. Is this another facade, and what is this change that is about to come, and to what extent will it affect the residents?
“Georgetown, I love you but.”
Series of street interventions
This series was created as a reaction to these spaces, commenting on the state of street art and its relation to public and government perception. The medium used were store-bought signs typically found at neighbourhood shops promoting a sale or a product.
But of course, I had fun too. Thank you Penang.