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January 22, 2015

Assemblage: Art Stage Singapore 2015

Text by Nittal Chandarana

What do fridge magnets, speed dating and ice-cream have to do with Art Stage Singapore 2015? Find out more…

The 5th edition of Art Stage Singapore (headed by founder and director Lorenzo Rudolf) will witness art from participating countries India, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar among others, and include a 3:1 ratio of Asian and western galleries. Highlights being a speed dating event to connect artists with curators, the magnet artwork Economy by 54 artists initiated by the Potong brothers (also known as Latent Spaces) and Being Human, a collection of works by 16 Malaysian artists.

Verve gives you excerpts of an email interview with Rudolf and the Potong brothers.

On Art Stage Singapore 2015
Lorenzo Rudolf: One of the highlights will be a museum-like exhibition, Eagles Fly, Sheep Flock – Biographical Imprints: Artistic Practices in Southeast Asia, which has a totally academic approach, but where every work is for sale. It will showcase over 30 of Southeast Asia’s most interesting and promising emerging artists. Indian artist Paresh Maity will be exhibiting his work Mystic Abode as a Public Artwork at Art Stage Singapore. There will also be several Indian galleries showing at the fair. Among them is Chemould Prescott Road making its debut. International superstars and Turner Prize winners Gilbert & George have created five huge panels for Art Stage Singapore, and will also personally be present at the fair — a funny encounter not to be missed.

On Singapore Art Week
Lorenzo Rudolf: The Singapore Art Week was created around Art Stage Singapore. In 2011, when the first edition took place, we had to organise the side events ourselves in order to create a high end art ambiance surrounding the fair. Today I am so happy to see that Art Stage Singapore has made such an impact on the Singapore art scene that an entire Art Week has sprung up around the fair.

On the success story of Potong ice cream and the commerce of art
Latent Spaces:
 We sell ice cream and canned drinks at our gallery space in Haw Par Villa to help pay for the gallery sitters but it cannot sustain full-scale art production and presentation. Not many artists are actually able to sustain themselves by selling work. Selling one piece of work at a few thousand dollars every few months will not pay the rent. You need something to complement the art practice. Some artists teach while some hate the administrative and repetitive nature of teaching. Some art venues work together with commercial entities such as F&Bs but the values of these two clashes all the time. How can we bring in the dole and still have time, space and energy to make art?

On the speed dating event
Latent Spaces: Hookup No. 1 aims to provide a semi-formal platform for as diverse a group of artists and curators as possible to meet. Many international guests visit the annual Art Stage, and this will be a great opportunity for local, regional and international artists and curators to meet up and talk shop. The speed dating event came about after a short chit-chat session with artist Michael Lee, who already had this speed dating project brewing in his head. We liked his idea and decided to support his event on our Potong Ice Cream $2 project platform at Art Stage.

On Economy
Latent Spaces:
A total of 54 artists made fridge magnets for Economy. Metaphorically, we think that a fridge magnet works as our project performs the magnetic task of pulling artists together. The whole composition looks structured and stable, but always a temporary attachment. The magnets threaten to break free of the grid all the time, kind of like how artists are, supremely individualistic, always wanting to do their own things and very difficult to bring together as a collective force. Moms put up drawings of children on a fridge door using a fridge magnet. But how many kids grow up to become artists? Often the art interest becomes a hobby as we take on more practical directions. The question of nurturing art is posed. 

On global impact
Lorenzo Rudolf: Contemporary art is no more a Western domain. Singapore and its flagship event Art Stage brought Southeast Asia on the global art map. Even more, they created a worldwide ‘momentum’ for Southeast Asian contemporary art; even world institutions like the Guggenheim or Tate Modern begin to exhibit and to collect Southeast Asian art. Art Stage Singapore became the place to discover, experience, understand and meet the stunning and spectacular South East Asian art world.

The Art Stage Singapore is on at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore, from January 22 – 25 2015

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