I came, I saw, and I left broke. This is a familiar experience for lovers of art book fairs the world over. It was certainly what happened to me at the recent Singapore Art Book Fair 2016, an annual showcase of arts publishing from the Southeast Asian city-state and its surrounding region. Inspired by similar fairs in Tokyo and New York City, independent bookstore BooksActually founded its own version of this fair with creative consultancy Hjgher three years ago. After sitting out last year, the fair returned last weekend, turning the ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay Sands into a “Cabinet of Curiosities.”
Stacks of zines, books, prints, and objects from over 30 exhibitors were testament to how the self-publishing phenomenon has taken root in Singapore. Local artists like Robert Zhao and the design studio Atelier HOKO displayed their collections of self-published titles created over the years—including their latest books on Myna birds and eggs (which should give you a sense of the range of topics at the fair)—while THEBOOKSHOW, a local initiative to encourage young artists to produce photo-based books, showcased the bounty of titles it had amassed in just two years.
While much smaller in scale than the decade-old New York Art Book Fair, which filled the entire MoMA PS1 museum last year, the Singapore Art Book Fair wasn’t lacking in energy or publications to spend good money on. Here are five that burnt a hole in my wallet: