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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Getting Busy

By Hynam Kendall...

Humble beginnings scrawling spray-can silhouettes on Paris walls are a distant memory for Fafi, who's basking in the glow of a successful foray into mainstream media by creating the lithe, strutting version of Lily Allen in Mark Ronson's video for Oh My God. She's also helming fashion and beauty campaigns for Adidas, MAC cosmetics and Luella, and sits assuredly at number ten on The Observer’s Who’s Cool Now Hot 50, above media-savvy contemporaries Lovefoxx, Santogold and Adam Neate. Not bad for a girl who does her day job "for fun."

“Yes, sex is a signifier. But not sex sex. It's not pornography,” Fafi pointedly urges in what can only be described as a sexy accent, dulcet and melodic. She then laughs a laugh that summons her assistants, who escort her and her guest—in the guise of Dictaphone-wielding journalist—to a meeting room, the same room that serves as her home-away-from-home when work is heavy, as it is today. “Sexy, funny and sometimes aggressive. That’s how I describe my style,” she continues in short breaths, as though the five-minute interval between her responses never happened.

Time is of the essence for an up-and-comer like Fafi (“Am I still an up-and-comer? Surely I’ve up and come by now.”). Her every waking moment is spent between interviews, phone calls, emails, photo shoots and listless appointments, all noted and accounted for in her hand-held calendar, with its color-coded post-its and cellotape strands. So busy is she that she alerts her international curator Melina to help answer to my questions. Fafi, it seems, is going to be late for a cover shoot accompanying an in-depth piece about her new sneaker range for Adidas, which "will be amazing,” she assures me in a seductive Lolita twang that leaves vowels suspended in mid-air. On top of that, one of her assistants says, she has a MAC collection to launch in the Middle East and subsequently bring to America. Moreover, she must explore her collaboration with New York-based brand M.O.B. and concentrate on pieces for her solo gallery show in Paris come December.

Then, of course, she must travel the world, for no other reason than she wants to see it. "I always travel around the world. It punctuates the end of a project and it keeps me sane,” she enthuses, flicking her hair the way the boys like. She is undeniably a wanted woman. “It's just my job,” she casually coos before dashing to her next appointment, another meeting of minds indeterminate from her sea of exchanges that make up her every day.

Before she's gone, I manage to ask whether or not she is deigned to fight the cause for street art and risk suffering the same de-evolution of art critique as graffiti artists like Banksy before her. "This art is a way to express myself,” she says. “I will go on to multiply the mediums of my art: canvas, walls, bags, stationery, clothes, make-up—as long as they are quality mediums. Graffiti is such a base term. People put it in a box and think it can only go so far. It doesn't need to remain on walls. I’m graffiti and not. Yes and no. I'm giving life to a new medium that is just X.” And with that, she is gone, her words lingering.

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