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Notes From a Diplomat | In Conversation with Haris Dafaranos, ex Greek Ambassador to Australia

“A diplomat is by de nition a generalist. He or she has to know a lot about many dimensions of life,” says His Excellency Mr Haris Dafaranos, Ambassador of Greece to Australia. “I would say that Law, Economics, History, Diplomatic History, International Relations, Literature and Philosophy are subjects one should master, together with foreign languages. A good critical mind is also necessary, with the ability of synthesis and analysis as well,” he adds. Good judgement, he explains, is also part of this equation, but it comes with time and experience. Add to this being a good listener and multiply it by being an everyday avid reader and you have some of the essential qualities of a quali ed diplomat. Born in Athens, Greece, Ambassador Dafaranos had a certain penchant for languages, studying French, English and Italian in high school. He continued his interest in languages, studying English Literature and Law at university, where he realised that he wanted to follow a professional career which would give him experiences from a global perspective. So in 1980 …

Interview with Alex Chinneck | fluoro

You probably wouldn’t believe that a building could melt, be built upside down, or be split into two with its top half somehow levitating. An electricity pylon couldn’t just fall from the sky, and 312 windows could never be identically smashed. The thing is, they can, and have. They’ve been brought to life by London-based artist Alex Chinneck. Chinneck’s work is renowned for its ambitious scale and illusory nature. They are largely cross-disciplinary and cross-technical – architectural processes intertwining with sculptural processes, and engineering with art. The results are nothing short from magnificent. His piece From the Knees of my Nose to the Belly of my Toes, or the ‘sliding house’, as it’s more commonly known, saw the façade of a home in Margate replaced with a brick front. It gave the impression that it was somehow sliding into the front garden. The detached four-storey house had been derelict for 11 years, had fallen into ruin, and Chinneck’s project was a kind of cultural or artistic rejuvenation not only of the building, but the area itself. The …

Focus on the Unfocused: Alex Garant | fluoro

Canadian pop surrealist artist and Queen of Double Eyes Alex Garant, creates pieces that are about focusing on the unfocused. Employing the use of pattern duplication, symmetry and image superstition, particularly of eyes, her pieces can almost discombobulate the viewers, as it is difficult to focus on the true face of each subject. Garant says she has always been fascinated by symmetry and patterns, or “anything that makes the eyes travel over an image repeatedly.” The more she played with duplication of elements the more she found the vibrating effect that was created by overlaying images so positively stimulating. Portraits are her modus operandi, ultimately vivid and assertively striking. She captures a certain stillness from her subjects – they are looking towards us, but it is the eyes (and some other facial features) and the way Garant multiplies and overlaps them that seem to be communicating various messages. “Eyes are the window to the soul. This is how we communicate,” says Garant. “I like to think that the viewers shall try to unearth the main figure by focusing on …

Cuba: Black and White by Anna Mia Davidson | fluoro

Photographer Anna Mia Davidson has released her latest book, Cuba: Black and White, a series of photographs taken during her time in Cuba. Her photos tell the story of a turbulent time in during the beginning of the ban of trade and travel between Cuba and the United States. A break in diplomatic relations ultimately created a de facto embargo on information about Cuba. “As a young activist, I questioned the morality of the US embargo against Cuba. I was eager to find the positive in a country that I was forbidden to travel to by my government,” said Davidson. In 1999, at just 25 years old, Davidson made her way to Cuba to capture the Cuban people’s perspective. Ultimately, she was in search of the positive in an otherwise bureaucratically dismal situation, and although encountering moments that caused her to shift her thinking at times what she found rising to the surface was the spirit and resilience of the Cuban people. And the photos of Cuba: Black and Whitedepicted the spirit, the resilience, and the beauty …

Any Other Name

Every month my primary school would have an assembly to give awards to the achievers of the month. Those who were awarded the small yellow certificates signed by the principal would run straight to their parents after school, their grins essentially indestructible. The student assigned to read the names on the certificate would do so effortlessly, and one by one the students trotted out to the front of the stage. Then, he paused. The auditorium paused. “Staff-a…Stepha…Stefatina?” The only Stefatina in the school got up, looked at the certificate and shook her head. It wasn’t hers. I knew exactly who that certificate belonged to but I sat quietly waiting in the hope that they would eventually pronounce the nine letters in the name with ease. In a recent study by Laham et al, it was found that in general those with easy to pronounce names have things a bit easier. In the five studies conducted it was found that compared to those with difficult to pronounce names, people with simpler names are judged more positively, …

Interview with Eero Aarnio | fluoro

There are few things that can define an era. Then there are fewer things not only that define an era but also seep into those succeeding it, and retain valuable cultural currency. A concept released in 1962 caused a stir and remains relevant to this day. It was the Ball Chair. A hollow sphere sliced on one side, giving the feeling to whoever is inside that they are, as the name suggests, sitting in a bubble. The design quickly gained momentum for its unusual style and it became a staple for many homes. The 60s embraced it, and it became a design phenomenon. The designer behind it all was Eero Aarnio. After studying architecture in Helsinki, Finland, Aarnio worked as a product designer for the largest furniture factory in Finland: Asko. He also worked for famed Finnish designers Ilmari Tapiovaara, who designed furniture for the Finnish army, and Antti Nurmesniemi known for his horse-shoe stool and his coffee pots. The two designers influenced Aarnio and taught him how to remain focused in design. “While working …

Yoko Ono: Lumière de l’aube | fluoro

In 1971 Yoko Ono placed an advert in the New York Times announcing her exhibition, a one-woman show, at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In her catalogue for the show, she was depicted standing in-front of MoMA, its logo prominent in the foreground, but just before the “A” there was a drop in the sign causing one to look down to see Ono standing, holding a bag with the letter “F” on it. The Museum of Modern Fart was the not-so-accidental title of this fake exhibition that was supposedly based on a jar of flies released in the air by Ono, their journey documented by a photographer. When visitors arrived at MoMA, however, they would see the advert taped to the ticket window, underneath reading in Ono’s handwriting, “this is not here.” Moving to New York City in 1953, Ono established a relationship with gallery owner George Maciunas of Fluxus, where Ono later held her first solo exhibition. Only five people attended, including John Cage. Although the trial, tribulations and controversies that surrounded Ono after she married …

Amsterdam

Amsterdam: A City of Creation | fluoro

“I see drawings and pictures in the poorest of huts and dirtiest of corners.” – Vincent Van Gogh Amsterdam. A city renowned for its culture, history, art and UNESCO world heritage listed canals, will see a surge in creative events this month with the renowned Amsterdam Art Weekend and International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) taking place in locations around the city. A walk around the Herengracht, Prinsengracht or Keizergracht – Amsterdam’s three main canals, will weave you through what the Dutch city has to offer. The tightly packed canal house gables, icons in their own architectural right, display the mastery of Dutch architecture from the 16th to 20thCenturies. They are richly decorated and among them we see other important buildings such as the Westerkerk Tower and DAM Square, a nod to the artistic values that Amsterdam is renowned for. A vivid arts scene where one can listen to the world renowned Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra or visit the Van Gogh Museum, or for that matter, any of the 140 galleries or 40 museums that the city …

Solving the London Housing Crisis | fluoro

Today London is facing a tough challenge, with an inflated population and increased pressure on the housing market. Statistics from the Valuation Office Agency, a body that lends valuation and property advice to government, show sharp increases in housing prices over the last four years, forcing people to rent smaller more affordable properties, house share, and reside in dwellings including old office buildings and police stations. Innovation in the housing sector was a must, so together with with the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, think-tank New London Architecture (NLA) created a competition which called for proposals from architects, town and city planners, developers and everyday residents, to develop great ideas to help solve the London housing crisis. This attracted more than 200 entries from 16 countries with industry professionals displaying great innovation and design prowess, generating a range of ideas to create ingenious housing solutions for future generations. The entries were truly innovative. An idea put forward by BACA, called Buoyant Stars, proposed that starter homes be built to float over London’s vast water networks, claiming that 7,500 water homes could be delivered …

Hussein Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan: Gravity Fatigue | fluoro

Hussein Chalayan is showing us his creative mastery once again, this time with a new dance production at London’s Sadler’s Wells dance studio. Chalayan’s new production Gravity Fatigue has seen him collaborating with acclaimed choreographer Damien Jalet, who has had a longstanding partnership with Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, who together created Bolero, a collaboration with performance artist Marina Abramovic for Paris Opéra Ballet in 2013. Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director and CEO, says that the production sees a complementary union between dance and fashion. “Both dance and fashion deal with the moving body and one’s sense of identity, and in Gravity Fatigue the two art forms don’t just enhance each other, but are truly complementary in their delivery of the show’s concepts and, ultimately, of Chalayan’s distinctive aesthetic vision,” he said. Chalayan’s distinctive vision has meant that he is no stranger to performance. His fashion presentations often erring towards performance, an evocative meaning often embedded throughout them. For instance, his show After Words, presented in 2000 on the Sadler’s Well stage, centred on the theme of displacement …