The seventh edition of Art Stage Singapore, Southeast Asia’s flagship art fair, opens from 12 to 15 January 2017 (Vernissage on 11 January) with the second Southeast Asia Forum and regional and international galleries presenting artists from across Asia and the world.
Art Stage Singapore continues to lead with innovative fair content, engaging with and addressing contemporary issues pertinent to world affairs today. Beyond a market platform, Art Stage Singapore plays a key role in the ecosystem of contemporary art in Singapore and Southeast Asia, not only in developing and bridging individual regional art markets, but also in creating a forum for the exchange of ideas that are critical to understanding the economic and sociopolitical issues of the day.
“Art Stage Singapore takes our role as a key player in the contemporary art scenes of the region very seriously. While acknowledging today’s challenging economic and sociopolitical situations, we continue to be committed to strengthening the art ecosystem of Southeast Asia by presenting relevant and innovative content that would encourage a more involved art scene. This is why our second Southeast Asia Forum, through its exhibition and series of lectures, will be even more important to the way we position ourselves as an engaged art fair that looks beyond the markets,” says Lorenzo Rudolf, Founder and President, Art Stage Singapore.
Against this backdrop, the seventh edition of the Fair will strengthen its focus on Southeast Asia. It will emphasise the importance of developing a cohesive Southeast Asian art market by bringing together individual markets of the region into a single bloc for the region to be more competitive vis-à-vis the other more developed global art markets in the West and China.
Southeast Asia Forum
Art Stage Singapore 2017 will present the second Southeast Asia Forum, which aims to emphasise the balance between art, commerce and content. The Forum is a thematic programme, comprising an exhibition and a series of lectures that offer more focused and deeper views into global issues that have direct impact on Southeast Asia. The second Southeast Asia Forum will focus on the theme of capitalism and is titled Net Present Value: Art, Capital, Futures, which seeks to explore the values of art, imagination and progress, and, the price of doing business as usual in the global capitalist system.
The Forum’s exhibition surveys impacts of economic development on cultures, beliefs, social relations and daily life in Southeast Asia as countries race to establish their place in the league of global economies. Through the works of socially engaged artists, many from the region, the exhibition emphasises the importance of cultivating alternative forms of capital and conditions for the evolution of societies in an increasingly complex global environment.
Exhibition highlights include works by the following artists:
Singapore’s Kent Chan presents his project If Not, Accelerate a project that examines the issues of migrant labour in Singapore through the matrix of the polis, the Greek word for ‘city’. The etymological root of the words ‘police’, ‘policy’ and ‘polity’, the polis as the de facto site of politics and its many entanglements, provides the conceptual linkages to excavate the historic and contemporary links between Singapore and its large migrant labour population. Through an assemblage of videos, text and sculpture that problematise the representation of migrant labour, this project unravels a city, its socio-economic politics, anxiety and trajectory.
Ivan Lam’s Vending Art is a project that seeks to trigger questions and reflections on the commodification and consumption of art, the definition of ‘art’ and ‘artist’, the value of an artwork and of an artist, the changing dynamic and relationships between artists, galleries, art fairs and buyers. For Vending Art in the second Southeast Asia Forum, artists in and from the Southeast Asian region are invited to each submit one original artwork, in the size of a business card. For each artwork received, Lam will produce a Perspex case carrying the artist’s name, which will then be placed in a fully operational vending machine to be located on the fairground.
An interdisciplinary collaboration led by French architect François Roche
Liminal, a collaborative work by New-Territories/M4/RMIT, is a re-imagined telling based on the Greek myth of Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi who was believed to possess divine powers of foretelling the future. Pythia’s two thousand-year reign (1600 BCE – 393 CE) is thought to have ushered in a powerful form of enterprise through divining. In referencing the ancient system in which the Oracle was harnessed to gain influence and capital, Liminal alludes to advertising and selling false dreams, to the timeless and universal human condition of greed and a tendency to excess and destruction. Liminal points to the notion of excess: of technology, of knowledge, of consumptive orgy.
Jose Tence Ruiz
Filipino artist, Jose Tence Ruiz’s series CSI: Chimoy Si Imbisibol presents masked figures seemingly portrayed as forensic experts fill up the monochrome print on canvas works. Chimoy is a colloquial term for ‘household helper’, or someone who usually carries out the mundane tasks in one’s home. The series depicts images of the Filipino domestic helper in the midst of doing everyday chores in various areas of the household, such as doing the laundry, washing the car, sweeping the floor, and cleaning the toilet. The white clinical attire of the figures draws a divide between the figures themselves and their surroundings, creating a sense of alienation while at the same time obscuring its presence. It further emphasises the role of Filipino domestic helpers in contributing to the widespread capitalism around the world, as the invisible force behind the world’s labour economy.
With “I, Svay Sareth, eat rubber sandals” Cambodian artist Svay Sareth questions the weapon of political psychology, borrowing the very strategies he critiques in a tone between comedy and suffering and a timeline traversing the past and present. The single channel video documents the artist’s performance “I, Svay Sareth, eat rubber sandals”. Both in reference and contrast to Jorgen Leth’s scene of Andy Warhol’s cool indifference eating a hamburger in 66 Scenes from America, Svay intensely gnaws apart his meal – a resistance to the numbing effect of Cambodia’s fast-growing consumer society and a refusal to consume political ideologies that continue to maintain low education and high poverty levels.
The Forum’s series of lectures and panel discussions will bring together economists, business leaders, policy makers and the art community to examine, through different perspectives, challenges relating to social inequality arising from the global capitalist system. In creating encounters between thinkers, actors and influencers, the Forum seeks to bring about more inter-disciplinary understanding and collaboration in re-imagining conditions and ideals for social inclusion in the 21st-century global society.
Art Stage Singapore will present a diverse range of carefully selected galleries from across Asia and the world featuring 126 exhibitors from 27 countries. Three quarters of the exhibitors are returning galleries. A quarter of all participating galleries are new to the Fair. 80 percent of the participating galleries hail from Asia Pacific and one third of the total number of galleries are Southeast Asian. This clearly defines Art Stage Singapore 2017 as an Asian art fair.
The Collectors’ Stage
Art Stage Singapore 2017 presents for the first time in Singapore the Collectors’ Stage, a project collaboration between Art Stage Singapore and The Artling. The show will feature artworks from the collections of six leading Singapore based collectors. This follows in the footsteps of the very successful Collectors’ Show exhibiting works from the collections of six leading Indonesian collectors at the inaugural Art Stage Jakarta in August 2016. The six Singapore based collectors will open up their collections for a selection of artworks to be featured in an exhibition at the Fair.
Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art
Together with the U.S Embassy Singapore, Art Stage Singapore will once again present the Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art in conjunction with the Fair. The Award recognises an artist or curator from Southeast Asia who is actively committed to the ideals of liberty and freedom of expression, and through his or her work, continually seeks to express these ideals. The winner will be awarded a cash prize of USD15,000.
To date, the three finalists of the Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art 2017 are as follows:
Arahmaiani is regarded as one of Indonesia’s most respected and iconic contemporary artists, known for her commanding and challenging commentaries on social and cultural issues. Her artistic practice incorporates an extensive range of media including video, installation, painting, drawing and sculpture. Since the 1980s and 1990s, Arahmaiani has established herself as a pioneer in performance art in Southeast Asia. Her artistic practice is a survey of thoughts and actions that investigate social, political and cultural issues.
Aye Ko (Myanmar)
Aye Ko’s performance art has established his position as one of Myanmar’s most high-profile artists. For the past two decades, his practice has interrogated the meaning of politics and nature. In 2008 Aye Ko and his colleagues established ‘New Zero Art Space’ to share their ideas and activities with the wider public. This space continues to actively stir the dynamics of contemporary art in Myanmar.
Chaw Ei Thein (Myanmar)
Chaw Ei Thein continues to challenge and give insight into the language of womanhood specific to her culture and Southeast Asia. She gained international attention in the mid-1990s with her performance works, particularly in 2008 for her collaborative sugar piece September Sweetness. Today, Thein continues to find strategies and opportunities for Burmese artists to share their work, seeking to encourage active and participatory dialogue and exchange with her artistic community in Yangon.
“I congratulate Arahmaiani, Aye Koh and Chaw Ei Thein as the finalists of the Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art 2017, an award that underscores the moral and sociopolitical roles of contemporary art. That two of the three finalists are women artists sends a strong message about the position of women in our societies. As artists they have worked tirelessly to bring the world’s attention to pressing socio-political issues in their home countries. As women artists, their participation in this Award serves to advance the cause for women and gender equality not only in the region, but also the rest of the world.” — Lorenzo Rudolf, Founder and President, Art Stage Singapore.
“We’re proud that in its third year, the Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art continues to recognize artists who push creative and expressive boundaries,” said U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar. “The three finalists – Arahmaiani, Aye Ko and Chaw Ei Thein – are opening up new dialogues on important issues in their communities, and around the world, through their art. I look forward to congratulating all the finalists and announcing the winner on January 10.”
The 2017 award jury that selected the finalists included: Professor Ute Meta Bauer, Director, Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Singapore; Ms Zoe Butt, Artistic Director, The Factory Contemporary Art Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Mr Enin Supriyanto, Independent Art Curator and writer, Indonesia. U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar and Lorenzo Rudolf, Founder and President, Art Stage Singapore, will announce the winner at an award ceremony on January 10, 2017.
Art Stage Singapore 2017 is the anchor event of the Singapore Art Week and takes place from 12 to 15 January 2017 at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. For more information, visit Art Stage Singapore.