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  • Nov 16, 2021

Blocked KAWS Exhibition Set to Reopen

Installation view of KAWS: HOLIDAY at The Float at Marina Bay, Singapore, 2021. Photo by RK. Image via Instagram.

The “KAWS: HOLIDAY” display in Singapore of the cartoon artist's giant inflatable figures reopened to the public at The Float at Marina Bay on November 16 after it was briefly closed by a court order following an interim injunction filed by the Singapore-based nonprofit The Ryan Foundation (TRF). Late in the day on November 15, a state court's ruling lifted the injunction, allowing the exhibition and sales of merchandise by the artist’s Hong Kong-based creative agency AllRightsReserved Limited (ARR) to proceed. The court also ruled that TRF should pay ARR’s legal costs and announced an inquiry into damages from the original injunction.

TRF had asked earlier for an injunction against ARR for the misuse of confidential information and a breach of intellectual property rights. In 2019, during the preparation process of the Singapore exhibition, TRF and ARR were in conversation to bring the Companion sculpture to Singapore but their negotiations broke down. Nonetheless, ARR with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board brought the giant, 42-meter inflatable sculpture to the center of Singapore in the seventh stop on a world tour that started in Seoul in 2018 and has included stops in Taipei, Hong Kong, and Japan.

ARR said that they welcomed the judgment, believing that “justice has prevailed.” Adrian Chan, director of TRF, said the nonprofit would continue to fight for the case: “The circumstances are now that the public is aware that the exhibition had been built on confidential information as we proceed to full trial. This is a long case that will be fought for all the freelancers and creatives whose ideas, pitches and work has been stolen or used without authorization.”  

The Singapore Tourism Board and artist Brian Donnelly (KAWS) were not parties involved in the lawsuit. “KAWS: HOLIDAY” will be open with free admission through November 21. 

Victoria Chan is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.