Art Stage Singapore Returns in 2017 With A Stronger Southeast Asian Identity

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 eco-system 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 socio-political issues of the day.
“Never has it been more urgent for us to re-examine the role of contemporary art in our societies than it is today. Against the backdrop of the weak global economy and changed political landscapes, art fairs such as Art Stage Singapore must re-think our role.  Can we continue as before – riding high on the art market boom? As the performance of art markets is inextricably linked to the health of the economy, maintaining the same market positions is unrealistic in the current economic climate,” says Lorenzo
Art Stage Singapore takes our role as a key player in the contemporary art scenes of Singapore and the region very seriously. While acknowledging today’s challenging economic and socio-political situations, we continue to be committed to strengthening the art eco-system 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.”
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.
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.
As income inequality—within individual nations and between nations—continues to escalate, the rise of populism, protectionism and jingoism across countries encroaches on the delicate international balancing act of fostering greater social inclusion. Looking beyond widespread anxiety in response to a tangled state of world affairs that include socioeconomic uncertainties, geopolitical power shifts, international security conflicts and technological advances, questions over the future of the global capitalist system are underpinned by broader, deeper forces. A new global era of perpetual crises prevails which calls, more urgently than ever, for ‘seismographs’ and ‘disruptors’—visionaries, leaders, thinkers, socially engaged actors—to remind us of our collective consciousness and agency, and to re- frame the ways with which we have grown accustomed to seeing the world.
‘Net Present Value’ is a method commonly used to forecast the profitability of future returns on investments made today. Simply put, it is a future value expressed in today’s terms. The second Southeast Asia Forum seeks to explore the values of art, imagination and progress, and, the price of doing business as usual in the global capitalist system. It examines relationships between money, ideals and some of the fault lines in the present financial age, including the Forum’s immediate sphere of influence—the art market and the value of art.
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.
Among the exhibition highlights will be works by artists Ivan Lam, Kent Chan, Jose Tence Ruiz, Svay Sareth and New-Territories/M4/RMIT, an interdisciplinary collaboration led by French architect François Roche. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Speakers for the lecture series are being confirmed. A full list will be announced shortly.
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. The Main Partners of Art Stage Singapore 2017 are Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Kingsmen Creatives and Le Freeport. Official Partner of Art Stage Singapore 2017 is Ruinart and Official Logistics Partners are Agility and Helutrans. Strategic Partners of Art Stage Singapore 2017 include Economic Development Board (EDB), Singapore Tourism Board (STB), National Arts Council (NAC), the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) and the National Gallery Singapore.
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