SportSingapore (SportSG) will make a “goodwill payment” to prominent local artist and Cultural Medallion recipient Lee Wen, after a 300˚ ping-pong table placed at the SEA Games Carnival was criticised for its similarity to the artist’s installation piece Ping-Pong Go Round.
SportSG – a statutory board under the Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth – and its vendor, Unusual Productions, met with Lee and iPreciation, the art gallery that represents him, and said that the matter had been “amicably resolved”.
Unusual Productions will also produce an edition of Lee’s Ping-Pong Go Round piece – under the artist’s specifications – to be donated to a museum in Singapore.
SEA Games organisers first came under fire when filmmaker Tan Pin Pin shared a photo of the table on Facebook, pointing out the similarity to Lee’s work. Lee had not been informed that such a table would be part of the SEA Games Carnival.
The SEA Games Organising Committee (SINGSOC) said that they had not intended to infringe on any rights, and that the table had been proposed by one of its vendors. However, iPreciation Art Gallery said that it had sent in a proposal to MCCY and the Singapore Sports Museum about placing Ping-Pong Go Round at the Singapore Sports Hub during the SEA Games.
Lawyers interviewed by The Straits Times said that Lee would likely not be able to claim copyright infringement, but the incident sparked concern among the arts community in Singapore, highlighting the need for more public discourse on intellectual property protection for arts and cultural workers.
“Capability development and nurturing a culture of creativity means artists should be given recognition and reward for the time and effort they spend on proposing and creating artworks, with the assurance that their ideas and creations are protected from plagiarism,” said a letter signed by over 220 members of the arts community.
A public Facebook group studying intellectual property and the arts in Singapore has been started.