Art Stage Singapore is now in its sixth year, yet it’s still distinguishing itself with game-changing content. New this year is the Southeast Asia Forum, a thematic exhibition and talk series titled Seismograph: Sensing the City – Art in the Urban Age. Conceived on the back of the well-received Southeast Asia Platform organised in 2014 and 2015, this beefed up forum draws attention to the rapidly urbanising landscape and the role of contemporary artists in the development of modern society. Participating in the exhibition component are 19 artist from across the region, who each give cred and meaning to the Art Stage tagline: We are Asia.
Here’s a quick rundown on four who caught our attention. But be sure to visit the fair from January 21-24 (at the Marina Bay sands Expo and Convention Centre) yourself, to truly soak in the experience.
Aliansyah Caniago (b. 1987)
Point of Return
Presented by Lawangwangi, Indonesia
Winner of the 2015 Bandung Contemporary Art Award, Caniago is a painter, and installation and performance artist known for his unique brand of art activism that sees him creating collaborative site specific works with members of the public. His Art Stage presentation, Point of Return (Titik Balik), is part of an ongoing project that was conceived in response to the environmental and cultural devastation witnessed in Situ Ciburuy, a once thriving lakeside town near Bandung, Indonesia which is now littered with abandoned fishing boats. Son of a fisherman, Caniago has included one such boat in his presentation, as well as photography and video documentation of his recent performance in Situ Ciburuy.
Zoncy (b. 1987)
Unknown Women 04: Siege Unit
Presented by Intersections, Myanmar
Although Yangon-based, Myanmar artist Zoncy hails from Thenasserim, a region in the southernmost part of the country with numerous ethnic minorities. Raised by a single mother, she sees her art as a medium to inspire change and regularly uses it to cast a spotlight on gender issues and social bias. At the fair, her mixed media photo collage series questions the transition Myanmar is undergoing, in particular drawing attention to the women who struggle to make a living on the streets of Yangon and Mandalay.
Sherman Ong (b.1971)
Nusantara: The seas will sing and the wing will carry us 2011
Presented by Ikkan Art Gallery, Singapore
Winner of the Prudential Eye Awards 2015 for Photography, visual artist Sherman Ong’s practice has always centred on the human condition. In Nusantara, an anthology of single-channel videos, he looks at how Southeast Asia’s maritime history and migration patterns have shaped the diasporic identities in the region. Although shot documentary style, it actually blurs the boundary between fact and fictional storytelling as it depicts lives caught between the cracks of inter-regional histories and social customs.
Anon Pairot (b. 1979)
Presented by Numthong Gallery, Thailand
It was through his work as a successful product designer that Anon Pairot was first introduced to a group of local weavers in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Wanting to free them from the monotony of weaving only baskets day in and out, he challenged them to put their traditional techniques to use in the creation of an object completely foreign to them — a supercar. Most had never even seen one (apart from on television) before, but the opportunity to make one with their bare hands gave them a window into a world they had never before imagined.