1. Art Stage Singapore
One of the most highly-anticipated art exhibitions this year (yes, even more so than the Singapore Biennale), Art Stage Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands (Jan 12-16) promises glamour, style and all the jazz missing in the local art scene to date, featuring works by art icons like Ai Weiwei, Andy Warhol, David LaChapelle, Takashi Murakami and Cai Guoqiang. Terry Ong gets the scoop from fair director Lorenzo Rudolf, who previously helmed Art Basel Miami Beach.
You’ve done some pretty big shows in the past—how does that prepare you for something like Art Stage?
During my tenure for Art Basel, the fair had transformed from what had been a normal trade show into the template of what art fairs are today—which include sponsorships, special marketing initiatives targeted at VIPs and of course lots of glitz and glamour with social events built around the fair. With globalization, the art world has become part of a lifestyle. Art Stage Singapore is a forward continuation of my work in Basel. Our goal is to build up Art Stage in the next five years to be the leading art fair in Asia and one of the most important events worldwide. It will be a show which puts the art in a context. The main criteria will not only be trends and easy saleability. Art Stage Singapore shows the art in an Asia Pacific context, by presenting interesting and stunning artistic positions and galleries from all over the region and supporting the best Asia Pacific emerging galleries.
So it’s about visibility and engagement…
It will be Asia’s meeting point and get-together of the art world. In Europe and America, most of the top collectors know each other. Whereas in Asia, the collectors only know about each other and look for opportunities to meet and to exchange. With the support of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Singapore Economic Development Board (SECB), we have built up a special matchmaking program bringing to Singapore the Asian collectors. Many of the top Asian collectors are also involved in the big museum exhibition—as well as collectors and art lovers from the West, Asian and international curators and professionals, Asian and international media, as well as potential wealthy Asian buyers. This matchmaking program is supported by an exclusive VIP program that we have in place. In fact, this is the first time leading agencies like STB and SECB have come together to create a special task force in support of a major project with one future goal: A contemporary art week comparable to Formula One!
2. Men’s Fashion Week
In what promises to be one of the most inspiring runway shows in town, the inaugural Men’s Fashion Week taking place Mar 30-Apr 3, spearheaded by entrepreneur Dr. Frank Cintamani (who is also the group publisher of Beaumont Publishing and head of global philanthropy at charity organization Celton) is a welcome addition to the predominantly women-centric fashion shows in town. Terry Ong chats with the man in charge.
Why Men’s Fashion Week?
I think the scene is ripe for this. I’ve noticed that there’s a massive gap in terms of what the fashion scene here has to offer for men although, in terms of fashion expenditures, we’ve been spending a lot! There’re also been a slew of new men’s labels which are opening on our shores like Dior Homme … and the city certainly has all the infrastructure in place. But at the same time, it’s not just about fashion as Men’s Fashion Week will also highlight other lifestyle aspects such as watches, automobiles, accessories and grooming.
What can we expect?
I love fashion and I’ve always travelled the globe to catch seasonal shows in Paris and Milan. It is so ridiculous that Asia doesn’t have a leading fashion festival yet to call its own, especially a male-centric one—did you know that we’ll be the only city in the world to have a dedicated men’s fashion week after Paris and Milan? So on a personal basis, I would like to have some major labels in the shows. But at the same time, as we’re a part of Asia, I’d also like to showcase some Asian labels including those from Thailand and Japan as well as upcoming local designers.
How confident are you that the festival will take off?
To quote a line from the film Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner about a son who was summoned by the ghost of his father to build a baseball field from scratch: “If you build it; they will come.”
3. Martin No. 38
From the team that brought us restaurants Kha and Graze comes new boutique fitness center and restaurant Martin No. 38, expected to open in February at 38 Martin Road (off River Valley Road). This two-in-one joint—part of an exclusive loft-style residential development—offers modern New Zealand cuisine by chef Jason Dell under the Graze umbrella as well as state-of-the-art gym equipment perfect for busy professionals—a bit like what Madonna’s doing with her new gym Hard Candy in Mexico.
Looking to rub shoulders with famous celebrities, industry moguls and the who’s who of the entertainment industry? Then welcome to Pangaea. Having hosted the likes of Cameron Diaz, Kate Moss and Giselle Bundchen elsewhere in the world, the American clubbing concept has Singapore partygoers abuzz with ancticipation. Slated to open as early as April and no later than June, it will take up the first floor of the Crystal Pavillion at Marina Bay Sands. Zul Andra talks to group principal and founder Michael Ault about his latest venture.
How will Pangaea change Singapore’s nightlife culture?
To be honest, anytime you have an industry where somebody comes in that does things very differently, one of two things can happen: It can either be embraced and usually duplicated; or it won’t be embraced and the concept morphes toward conformity. We have been in a lot of other markets and we’ve often been in places where people said that we wouldn’t last very long. But people have really embraced Pangaea; to the point where it has become a legendary brand.
In what way is Pangaea different?
Pangaea Singapore will be a very different experience from anything we ever had in the US, London or even anywhere else; and I think it will be very different from everything here. It’s just that our psychology and philosophy are completely different. We want to foster a completely different atmosphere because that’s where our orientation is, towards excitement, service and comfort. You are not just some person in my club, we are in your club; this isn’t just your table, this is your fantasy living room.
Can you elaborate on the “Pangaea experience”?
Nights are choreographed much in the way that a show would be thought of, except that the show is you. So it is our job to get you into it. We are going to start you off in a sort of cocktail circuit and bouncing around meeting people from table to table; and as we slowly reel you in with more alcohol, staff will get to know you and as you meet more people around you, you will start to feel more comfortable and slowly forget your daily stresses. After which we will ramp it up … but we don’t do it by just turning the music up because that’s what most of the clubs do. The whole staff is part of that orchestration which also means that it is going to be a complicated training challenge.
5. The General Election
Unless something unforeseen happens, the next 12 months will surely witness a General Election (GE). The main bugbear with GEs in recent years has been large sections of the population not getting to vote because of electoral walkovers (the majority of constituencies are Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) contested by teams; the opposition, because of their smaller resources, tend not stand in most GRCs). Other issues expected to be at the fore this time around are the rise of inflation, wage stagnation and an influx of foreigners, among a host of others. Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party Dr. Chee Soon Juan previews the GE and assesses the opposition’s chances with Ramesh William.
Do you foresee an election being called in the first or second half of this year?
We suspect that the next GE will be held in the first half of 2011. When the elections are held is not as significant as when the electoral boundaries are announced and the amount of time given for the campaign period. The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) always announces the boundaries very late and makes the campaign period extremely short (nine days), making it very difficult for the opposition to conduct a proper campaign.
What are some of the challenges facing your party as it prepares for the next GE?
The biggest obstacle we face is the continued censorship of the mass media. Singapore Press Holdings and MediaCorp are controlled by the PAP and this makes disseminating our news and views very difficult. We urge Singaporeans to visit our website (yoursdp.org) so that we don’t have to depend on the mass media for news and they can read for themselves our alternative proposals for Singapore.
What’s the feedback you’ve been getting from residents on the ground in the various constituencies that you intend to contest in?
Singaporeans are very angry and frustrated by PAP policies especially the economic ones that push up the cost of living while suppressing wages. People are also disenchanted with an immigration policy that indiscriminately takes in foreigners who compete unfairly with Singaporeans for jobs. As a result, they welcome us warmly when they see us during our walkabouts and house visits.
And finally, in your opinion, what is the most pressing issue faced by Singaporeans today?
As mentioned above, the runaway cost of living coupled by the stagnation of the real income is the biggest issue among Singaporeans. The flood of foreign workers is another pressing issue that the electorate faces today. The third issue is the HDB flat prices which have become too expensive for young couples to afford.
6. Laneway Festival
The names read like a hipster’s wet dream: Deerhunter, The Temper Trap, Foals, Beach House, Yeasayer … all of whom will be performing at the inaugural Laneway Festival come Jan 29. Since it began in a small laneway in inner-city Melbourne in 2004, the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival has grown to be a highlight event for music lovers around Australia. The festival prides itself on its “diverse, forward-thinking line-ups full of vital, surprising bands” as well as consistently delivering “boundary-pushing acts.” Zaki Jufri spoke to co-founder Danny Rogers about what’s in store.
What’s the musical concept for the Singapore edition of Laneway?
I’m confident to say that every one of the bands we have lined up is an incredible live act, each with their own unique sound. Most of them have built a loyal following all over the world. I would look at Laneway as a high end meal at a five-star restaurant. The acts are really high quality and I’m sure that there will be appreciative people out there who will go “wow.”
How did you guys manage to secure so many artistes for this festival?
Fans will be happy to know that all these artistes really wanted to come to Singapore. When we first started talking about the Singapore date, the artistes specifically said that they will only perform at the Australian Laneway if they get to play at the Singapore one as well. Singapore is highly regarded and a much-sought after place to perform in the artiste community especially those from the US and Australia, so for them to find out that Singapore is on the Laneway calendar … naturally they will jump at it.
2011 is looking like a great year for concerts in Singapore. We have lots of big acts coming through, including Iron Maiden, Eric Clapton, Deftones, Santana and The National just in the first quarter of the year. Any thoughts on this?
There are a lot of big events in the market in Australasia at this time of year. Singapore is right smack in the middle of the Japan-HK-Australia circuit so it’s convenient for artistes to fly around. There’s also a big cultural shift as a lot of artistes now know the importance of the Asian market and building a fan base especially in Singapore. And lastly, there are now really good promoters out there who will pay for putting on shows in this region. It’s possible that this will have a negative impact for artistes as sales will go down because there’s just too much volume. I guess the cream will just have to rise to the top.
Come mid 2011, Hollywood celebrities’ club of choice Avalon will open its doors in Singapore, its first international outlet after Hollywood. The club will occupy the second level of the floating Crystal Pavilion at the Marina Bay Sands, and feature a cutting edge sound and audio system by critically acclaimed John Lyons Systems. And if last year’s two-day Avalon Go! music festival (which featured the likes of Steve Aoki, Above & Beyond and The Chemical Brothers) was anything to go by, the club’s founder Steve Adelman is happy bouncing between radio-loving kids and more discerning club-goers. “Travelling in Asia showed how Singapore really had an appetite for development and new, creative ideas,” he says. “It actually became a no brainer when the opportunity to get involved with the Marina Bay Sands presented itself.”
8. ArtScience Museum
The Marina Bay integrated resorts development will finally be complete after the ArtScience Museum opens Feb 17. Hidayah Salamat talks to museum director Tom Zallee about what this stunning piece of architecture has to offer Singapore.
What does the lotus-shaped structure symbolize?
Fondly referred to as “The Welcoming Hand of Singapore” by chairman and chief executive Officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Sheldon G. Adelson, the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands features 10 “fingers” anchored by a unique round base in the middle. The design of each finger reveals different gallery spaces featuring skylights at the “fingertips” that illuminate the dramatically curved interior walls. The building is itself an expression of ArtScience, with its form being an aesthetic result of mathematical laws.
How will the museum contribute to Singapore’s cultural landscape?
Singapore is already fast becoming the exchange capital of the world in finance, culture and knowledge. With the ArtScience Museum, we will deliver an internationally renowned forum for the exchange of the latest creative ideas and theories. It is the first of its kind in the world and its exhibits explore the creativity which fuels art and science. Visitors from all walks of life will have the opportunity to embark on a journey inside the creative process, question nature’s wisdom, unleash their own ideas, and express their imagination. Our goal is to create a museum-going class in Singapore, and a museum that is approachable, welcoming and friendly … the city’s new great cultural symbol!
Will the museum feature any local works?
We have lined up two years’ worth of programming comprising major exhibitions with local shows layered in. It’s the objective of the museum to foster a creative class in Singapore, and to that end there will be opportunities and activities to work with talent, schools and institutions here and around the region.
9. Changi MotorSport Hub
Come the end of the year, the F1 circuit will not be the only place where you can experience the screeching of tires and the smell of burnt rubber. Construction of the upcoming Changi MotorSport Hub (along Aviation Park Road, right by the water) will be complete and petrol-heads and racing fans will then have another place for some high-octane action. The 3.7 kilometre-long FIA Grade 2 Track also promises to be more than just a venue for professional races and drivers in training. There will be an entertainment complex, a motorsports museum and an exhibition center. Other options include food and beverage outlets, as well as motor-themed retail shops.
10. Asian Masters 2011
This brand spanking new gourmet, culture and lifestyle festival which kicked off on Jan 3 is a fine way to start the year with a bang. (There’ll also be another edition later in the year.) Presented by American Express, the lineup of culinary wizards from around the region includes Otto Weibel, Chung Manh Cuong and Lucas Glanville. Highlights include an Asian barbeque with Bobby Chinn (Jan 27) and Justin Quek’s Asian-inspired dinner (Jan 17-18). Jalean Wong chatted with Francis Poulose (of organizers Sphere Exhibits) to find out more.
What inspired the inaugural Asian Masters?
Asian Masters was conceptualized as a lifestyle platform to feature the rising culinary talents of Asia. The inspiration really came from the many talents that Asia’s increasingly acclaimed restaurants, chefs, personalities and products have individually showcased. In essence, the event aims to bring together the best of Asia and celebrate it holistically—cuisine, lifestyle and culture. And the time is right. The overall F&B scene in Asia has never been more vibrant with cities such as Tokyo making its mark on the global map with the honor of being awarded the most Michelin star-rated restaurants. We have also seen how Asia has led the economic recovery in recent, which has in turn contributed to rising demand for quality F&B offerings such as service, food and dining experience, raising the bar in the overall quality and vibrancy of F&B in Asia.
What was the process behind deciding on the choice and organization of talents and events?
There was a clear intention of evolving Asian Masters into a recurring bi-annual event that would make its mark on the calendar of Singapore’s culinary and lifestyle scenes. As such, there were certainly key talents, personalities and partners that we knew we should approach.
How will the instalment in November vary from this one?
In gearing up towards November, we plan to have more visiting guest chefs and increase the overall lifestyle component such as fashion and the performing arts within the event.
It’s finally here. Scheduled to open in Fall (that’s fashion speak for the months of August and September, darlings), Spanish high street giant H&M will take over the space currently occupied by California Fitness Centre in Orchard Building. If the previous stampedes in Hong Kong and China are anything to go by, expect mass hysteria when the special collaboration pieces with well-known international labels like Lanvin make their debut.
The Subs Bench
OK, so there’s more than 11 …
Opening on Jan 29, this 700m, $70m footbridge from VivoCity offers an all new way to get to the beach. Boasting themed gardens, F&B options and even a lookout point, it’s certainly a damn sight cheaper than the cablecar.
Always wondered what freefalling feels like but never had the chance to try it? iFly Singapore, which will open in Sentosa some time in the first quarter over the year, simulates the skydiving experience through a vertical wind tunnel which recreates a freefall. Plus, it’s cheaper and safer than the real thing.
The Maritime Experiential Museum
The Maritime Experiential Museum scheduled to open mid-year at Resorts World Sentosa charts the 1,100 years of Singapore’s key position on the Maritime Silk Route connecting China with India, the Middle East and Europe. The center piece of the Museum is a 360-degree multimedia theater which will recreate a voyage between Singapore and Arabia in the 9th century.
Before the opening of the River Safari in 2012, two cute and cuddly pandas, named Hu Bao and Wu Jie, will arrive in August. These furry ambassadors are on loan from China for 10 years and will probably end up as major attractions at the Singapore Zoo before the safari’s completion.
New Circle Line MRT Stations
With the meteoric rise in COE and fuel prices, we can’t help but be thankful that the additional Circle Line stations set to open this year—including Caldecott (great for MacRitchie), the Botanic Gardens, Holland V, Kent Ridge and Labrador Park—will ensure that places that were previously a right pain in the ass to travel to without a car are a mere train ride away.