A round ping-pong table featured at Sports Hub Singapore as part of the SEA Games revelry has been criticised for its resemblance to a piece of artwork produced by Singaporean artist Lee Wen.
Lee Wen – a 2005 recipient of the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest cultural award – first presented his piece Ping Pong Go Round in 1998 in Melbourne, Australia. It has since been in exhibitions around the world, including countries such as Japan, Turkey, the UK and France. It has also been presented in both the Singapore Art Museum and the ArtScience Museum.
Presented as part of the SEA Games Carnival by corporate sponsor Atos, the 300˚ table at the Sports Hub was called Ping Pong Hustle, and encouraged people to participate in the activity and hashtag it on social media platforms.
Lee told The Online Citizen that he had not been aware that a round table like his would appear at the SEA Games. In fact, when he first saw the photo taken by filmmaker Tan Pin Pin, he had assumed that it was a picture taken of his work at an art show in France.
“I thought it was my work. It really looks like mine. Then I looked closely and was like, ‘How come got [the Atos logo]?’” he said in a phone interview.
Lee has since spoke to the SEA Games team, and will be headed to the Sports Hub tomorrow to look at the table himself before he decides what to do next.
“I’ll ask for some kind of apology and a kind of acknowledgement as well as to adjust certain things – I don’t like the logo around it, it spoils the work. It’s like propaganda for the company,” he said.
Despite the shock of finding such a striking resemblance to his work, Lee iw unwilling to be angry at anyone, and hopes to find a way to resolve the situation while preserving the integrity of his work: “I like the idea it’s spreading because it’s the kind of work that doesn’t require art knowledge alone. Many people can get into it quite easily and hopefully they can enjoy it, and through this kind of work they can learn more about art.”
The Online Citizen has reached out to SEA Games, as well as Atos and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth for comment.