4 Reasons to Visit the Affordable Art Fair Even if You’re Not Buying Art (Yet)

Written By Grace Hong

18th Nov 2016

Category: Guide

The Affordable Art Fair is back for its autumn edition. Opening its doors to the public today, the fair will end on Sunday evening—showcasing 86 galleries and more than 600 artworks through the weekend.

Though the fair takes place twice a year, its editions are anything but repetitive. This autumn, fair organisers have surprised us once more with their fair offerings.

Here are 4 reasons to visit the Affordable Art Fair even if you’re not buying art (yet).

1. Take your pick of who’s who in the emerging art scene

The Young Talent Programme (YTP) is a platform built to recognise young artists from Southeast Asia. But more than a competition where winner takes all, the YTP takes place in two stages. At the first, the panel chooses less than ten artists to highlight at the Affordable Art Fair in Singapore—allowing them an opportunity to exhibit in a public setting and receive feedback and response. Of this selection, one to four artists will get the chance to hold a solo exhibition at the ION Art Gallery in August/September next year. During this one year period, young artists will receive continuous mentorship from the programme curator as they develop their practice.

Tay Ining, Naked Potato; Sweet Naked Potato. 2016. Photo: ArtHop.

Naked-Potatoes, Welded Mild Steel And Potatoes, Variable sizes, 2016. Photo: Affordable Art Fair.

One of the first works a visitor encounters upon entry, Tay Ining is one of the eight artists chosen for the fair. Her installation, Naked Potato; Sweet Naked Potato, resembles a vegetable stand in a local neighbourhood market, with potatoes and sweet potatoes stacked haphazardly upon the sackcloth lined racks and on the floor. But among the organic vegetables lay her medium mild steel potatoes, equally diverse in shape and size.

“I was eating potato chips one day and realised how each chip resembles a metal sheet. So I stacked metal sheets upon each other. Potatoes are also an everyday, mundane object and this work helps people to look differently at it. I work in a metal workshop and am always surrounded by metal, but this work really helps me to push the boundary and expand my visual vocabulary as we don’t usually handle metal this way,” shares Tay.

Not just an installation to be admired, visitors are able to pick and choose the potatoes they want to bring home. At $20 per 100g, the artist then packages it in a grocery meshed bag, a process that “mocks the affordability and accessibility of art,” said Tay.

2. Ponder the issues unseen

Over at the Woodbridge Hospital Charity Fund (WHCF) stand, visitors can design their own drawstring bag for $20 with stamps created by Alicia Ho, a Singaporean illustrator and founder of Peng designs. Though it may seem a childish activity to some, the stamps lay testament to Alicia’s recovery journey at the Institute of Mental Health following her schizophrenia diagnosis five years ago. All proceeds from the activity will go towards WHCF in supporting the Early Psychosis Intervention Programme (EPIP) art therapy programme (which Alicia took part in) among other outreach.

On-site activity at the WHCF stand with stamps by Alicia Ho. Photo: Affordable Art Fair.

Yen Phang's Installation. Photo: ArtHop.

Yen Phang’s installation is a reflection on his mindscape too. After being diagnosed with depression a number of years ago, Yen turned to art as his only form of communication. The installation composes of toilet paper dyed with ink of various colours—black, pink, blue, to name a few. Paper is strewn across the walls, forming a curtain-like barrier separating one section from the next. On the floor, paper rolled in bundles unfurl like petals. The pastel-like hues allow the various colours to seamlessly blend as a whole; such that the dark colours do not detract from the light. Visitors are encouraged to move through the curtain, careful not to tear and dismantle the fragile work.

3. Let your breath be taken away—literally

Part of the fair’s public installations programme, Cynthia Delaney Suwito’s Holding Breath invites visitors to “donate” oxygen to the rest of the world. The premise of holding one’s breath (thus not taking in that amount of oxygen) and dividing the duration across the number of people living on earth presents the conundrum of how far our actions can impact the world.

Cynthia Delaney Suwito, Holding Breath 2015. Photo courtesy of the artist.

By constructing it as a work of art, the entire process is made a spectacle. Visitors stand in front of a camera while holding their breath, then being photographed with their record and pasting it onto a wall of fame (well, somewhat—can you hold your breath for a minute?) It calls to mind acts of charity put on public display and questions its efficacy—while nanoseconds, among many things, can be defined by a number, how far do your digits go?

4. Discover the art you love/hate, and the reasons why

On average, a person makes 35,000 conscious choices a day. From the clothes we wear to the Facebook articles we click, our life pans out according to the decisions we make. However, not every choice is informed and thought through. Why exactly do we like what we like, and on the flipside, hate what we do not?

Planted around the fair are polls of sorts, with questions such as what your favourite type of art is and an option to vote by pasting stickers. The limited options forces one to articulate his or her preference to a specific genre, guiding visitors through a thought process of appreciating art by pinpointing specificities to be discussed.

With over 600 artworks, a good afternoon activity would be to pick one artwork you like and construct sentences to describe it. Find out more about the artist’s background, education, and style from the gallerist and see how that informs your understanding.

The Affordable Art Fair is not a place of higher learning, but it is very much still a space of education and discovery—what the fair can do for you however, is only as you deem fit. 


The Affordable Art Fair ends this Sunday, 20 November 2016 at the F1 Pit Building. Admission prices start at $15 for adults and $10 for concession pass holders. More information here


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