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

Singapore Tatler - - CONCIERGE -

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.

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