THE FAIR MUST GO ON
Under the helm of newly minted CEO and fair director Marcus Teo, Art Stage Singapore goes back to its roots for its ninth edition, putting the spotlight on local art
ontemporary art is one of the most volatile markets in the world. Art Stage Singapore, Southeast Asia’s flagship art show, was not spared when it saw its number of participating galleries dip to 84 last year, the lowest since its inception in 2011. Rumours started flying about the fair’s fate, even more so when the third edition of its sister fair, Art Stage Jakarta, was postponed. However, in a surprise move, it was announced that for first time in the fair’s eight editions, its Swiss founder and president Lorenzo Rudolf will take a back seat, with CEO and fair director Marcus Teo taking the lead. Perhaps the former chief operating officer, who has been with Art Stage since 2012, is the breath of fresh air needed to bring the fair back to its former glory? Themed “I Am Art”, the ninth edition of Art Stage Singapore is held from January 25 to 27 (with the VIP preview on January 24) at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre. To reflect the fair’s commitment to the Singapore contemporary art scene, Teo takes a local-centric, community-driven approach, setting the stage for the expression of voices in the arts community, from artists and galleries, to collectors. The fair presents four main sections: a Singapore Stage, which spotlights Singaporean artists including Urich Lau, whose Video Conference: Synthesised Surveillance work sits at the entrance arch; a Central Stage with presentations from international, regional and local galleries; a Collectors Stage highlighting artworks from 28 collectors in the region, with half from Singapore; and a Project Stage featuring young emerging galleries, including independent art spaces run by Singaporean artists. Teo tells us more. Art Stage Singapore 2019 focuses on personal encounters with contemporary art. What is art to you? Art is beyond a commodity; it is a culture and as an art fair organiser, we have the ability to contribute to the arts community. It is important that the different communities come together to share what matters to them. The fair has a renewed focus on local art with the Singapore Stage. Why is this important? Art today is a platform for discussion and conversation. More than just providing a platform for local artists, the Singapore Stage offers them opportunities to connect with international artists and brands. For example, Singaporean artist Urich Lau’s Video Conference: Synthesised Surveillance, a co-commission with Bang & Olufsen, uses technology and sound systems to present an art practice to a greater audience. Consumers who value Bang & Olufsen for its design and technological excellence can now see how art transcends beyond what they are familiar with. The Collectors Stage highlights choice pieces from collectors in the region. What is the role of the art collector in the making of art history? The role of the collectors and their journey in collecting, or the theme of their collection actually directly influences a certain type of practice and creates opportunity for an artist to present it. Within the Collectors Stage this year, the collector demonstrates how he understands and approaches art, because every collector has a totally different personal approach, and all these go beyond the decorative aspect. An art world cannot exist with only artists; it needs the collectors, the markets, the museums, and so on. What are some of the highlights of the Collectors Stage? It is really encouraging to know that the collectors are presenting the works of artists that are underexposed. For example, two collectors from Malaysia are presenting works exclusively by Malaysian artists. We have one collector presenting an overview of artists who are under 30, including Singapore’s Ruben Pang, Dawn Ng and Luke Heng. We also have local collectors who will present an overview on the entire art history of Singapore. What have you learnt from Lorenzo Rudolf about the art world? I can never have Lorenzo Rudolf’s ability of foresight. Because of this, I have realised that no man is an island, so I consult various stakeholders, from Lorenzo himself, collectors, artists, galleries, curators and museums, for their opinion on what is important to them. My role is then to organise the various opinions and formulate the best direction that caters to not only of the moment but pave the way for the future of the fair.