The seventh edition of Art Stage Singapore is bracing itself for a tepid art market when the art fair opens in January.
Already, the preliminary number of participating galleries - 108 from 26 countries - suggests a possible drop in the number of exhibitors compared with the last edition, which had 170 galleries from 33 countries.
In response to the anticipated slowdown, Art Stage, which will run from Jan 12 to 15, plans to hold a fair that looks beyond fuelling an art market to fostering growth of the arts ecosystem in Singapore and the region.
The fair's founder and president Lorenzo Rudolf said at a press briefing yesterday that its holistic approach is necessary at a time when art sales - at the auction houses for example - are slipping.
He believes that if the fair builds up a "network of people who are engaged in the arts, and who can contribute to it" - from the audience and collectors to galleries and curators - "you create at the same time the market".
To do this, it plans to launch an inaugural showcase of art owned by six leading art collectors in Singapore, whose names will be announced later. Works in these private hands will be shown at both the fair grounds in Marina Bay Sands and the art gallery enclave in Gillman Barracks.
BOOK IT / ART STAGE SINGAPORE
WHERE: Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, 10 Bayfront Avenue
WHEN: Jan 12 to 15, noon to 8pm (Thursday to Saturday); 11am to 6pm (Sunday)
ADMISSION: $26 for a one-day pass and $52 for a four-day pass for early-bird sales until Dec 11; otherwise, $32 for a one-day pass and $64 for a four-day pass, from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)
Art Stage first introduced a showcase of collectors' works at its inaugural edition in Jakarta in August.
It also plans to continue its South-east Asia Forum, comprising an exhibition and a series of lectures, which was launched at the last edition. The upcoming forum aims to spur discussions on the value of art and the art market, as well as global issues that directly impact South-east Asia and its art scene.
Artists whose works will be exhibited at the upcoming forum includes Cambodian artist Svay Sareth, who will be showing a video work titled, I, Svay Sareth, Eat Rubber Sandals (2015). The video shows the artist gnawing on rubber sandals to express his resistance to Cambodia's growing consumerist society, as well as his rejection of oppressive political policies.
The list of speakers for the forum lectures is being confirmed. At the last edition, the speakers included Swiss celebrity art auctioneer Simon de Pury and renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.
Mr Rudolf said the fair's move to create and show more non-commercial content will have to be balanced against the space occupied by the galleries. It plans to have a total of 120 galleries at the upcoming edition.
The fair will hold its by-invite VIP preview on Jan 11 and kick-start the Singapore Art Week, a joint initiative by the National Arts Council, Singapore Tourism Board and the Singapore Economic Development Board. The Art Week will span 12 days and feature a variety of art shows, festivals and talks taking place islandwide.