PRISTINA, KOSOVO–In June, Kosovo will make its pavilion debut at the Venice Biennale.

Petrit Halilaj, a 26-year-old artist whose artistic talent of drawing simultaneously with both hands was first spotted at a refugee camp in Albania, will be representing Kosovo in a solo exhibition. He creates large-scale installations that combine piles of earth and rubble, live chickens and his intricate drawings.

It’s a major coup for both Mr. Halilaj and the Kosovo contemporary art scene, but it doesn’t come without controversy. Everything to do with Kosovo boils down to politics, and the contemporary art scene is no exception. Read more

Originally published in fDi magazine February/March 2012

Larry Claunch probably has one of the world’s most breathtaking commutes into work. The American businessman, who moved to Fiji 10 years ago and owns four islands in the northern reaches of country, flies several times a month by private seaplane over the exquisite greenish-blue tropical waters for business meetings on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. While Mr. Claunch openly admits he loathes leaving his tropical island paradise for long periods of time, he’s pretty excited for the casino license that his company, One Hundred Sands, was granted by the Fijian government last December. It is the first gaming license the government has given and it means One Hundred Sands will hold the exclusive rights to operate up to three casino gaming facilities in two locations. The $290 million (Fijian) investment will break ground in March on Denarau Island—close to the country’s main airport in Nadi—and will include 2,700 square meters of casino space, 500 slot machines, 57 game tables and an exclusive 160 square meters high stakes gaming area. The luxury property—at the end of island that is also home to exclusive hotels like Sofitel, Hilton and Westin—will also include 190 hotel rooms and villas, a 1500 seat conference space, an outdoor amphitheatre, two pools, two bars and a nightclub. A second phase of the resort will add an extra 200 hotel rooms, golf course apartments and a themed water park. Read more


(this article originally appeared in the IHT/New York Times on 14 June 2011)

Adam Szymczyk was more than an hour late for his opening. The Galerie Nacht St. Stephan in Vienna was hosting an exhibition he had curated, on the Romanian-born, Berlin-based conceptual artist Daniel Knorr.

Mr. Szymczyk mumbled his excuses as he was handed a glass of champagne. In fairness, it was not entirely his fault that he was delayed for the show, part of the “East by Southwest” program of exhibitions focused on artists — and curators — from central and eastern Europe that is taking place in 21 galleries across Vienna until Saturday. Mr. Szymczyk, the Polish-born director and chief curator of the Kunsthalle Basel, had tried to fit in a few of the other openings that evening. But at almost every turn artists, fellow curators, critics and contemporary art enthusiasts came up to him, seeking his opinion on the art being showcased. Read more


After the war: Sri Lanka seeks tourism and FDI boom

(originally published in fDi Magazine, December 2010)

As Monica Lewinsky lumbers along the Wadduwa shoreline, bikini-clad tourists from the various beach-lined hotels scamper up to her to take pictures, smiling and asking if they can take a short ride. Monica, an ageing Asian elephant named after the infamous mistress of former US president Bill Clinton, patiently waits as young couples, children and a German businessman climb onto her back for short strolls along the shore. The elephant’s owner often takes her out for a walk to the delight of holidaymakers who have come to this attractive patch along the Indian Ocean to get away from it all. If, as the Sri Lankan tourism board predicts, tourism increases next year, Monica could be set for a busy 2011. Read more


Poland has emerged from a difficult past to become one of Europe’s strongest economies, attracting an increasing volume of investment – and moving up the value chain – in a range of sectors such as IT, healthcare, R&D, financial services, aviation and business process outsourcing, writes Ginanne Brownell.

In 1987 Zygmunt Berdychowski had an idea. The Polish Solidarnosc activist wanted to organise a forum to encourage discussion on the economic and political future of Poland.

It took three years – and the introduction of democracy – for it to happen, but in 1990 the first Economic Forum was held in the south-eastern Polish spa town of Krynica, where 120 of the country’s best political and economic brains sat down together to discuss the future of the country. Read more