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Who was René Robert, the flamenco photographer found dead on the streets of Paris? | USA

Swiss photographer René Robert made headlines last week after it emerged that he had died on the streets of Paris from hypothermia on January 19, at the age of 84. He had been left unconscious after a fall, and no one came to his aid for hours, until it was too late. The circumstances of his passing have eclipsed his work, which was dedicated to capturing the essence of flamenco. Friends, colleagues and experts in such photography describe a personality and craft of someone whose death has become a terrible symbol of the dehumanization of people in big cities.

Robert, who was born in Fribourg and is due to be laid to rest today, Monday, in Paris, had a partner, Sabine, for many decades. He discovered the magic of photography at the age of 14, thanks to the father of a friend who developed his images. That’s according to Robert himself, who gave an interview in 2007 to the website Música Alhambra. He sought his fortune in France as a photographer, and in the 1960s he began to frequent Le Catalan, a flamenco venue in Paris. In the aforementioned interview, he explained that he was first attracted by the dancing, while the musical part of the show was “more confusing” to him.

His friend, the journalist Michel Mompontet, who announced his death, describes Le Catalan as the place where the Spanish diaspora would go: the artist Picasso, whose workshop was nearby, as well as the painter Juan Gris. “The old flamenco artists say that you could see and hear both the best and the worst,” Mompontet explains. “Those who were hungry would arrive and they would be given food, drink and a place to sleep.” Mompontet met Robert when he was 20, at the end of the 1980s. At those shows, “there was almost always a very smart-looking gentleman with a spotted handkerchief, hat and a cigarette in his mouth – discreet, but a friend of the artists,” he explains. That man was Robert.

While Robert intimidated him at the start, Mompontet discovered the “simple personality” of a man who worked as a publicity photographer to put food on the table, until his images of flamenco began to be worth something. As the years passed, several generations of artists passed before his lens: Paco de Lucía, Camarón, Chano Lobato, Fernanda de Utrera, Aurora Vargas, Tomatito, Antonio Gades, Cristina Hoyos, Sara Baras, Carmen Linares, Vicente Amigo… “Robert didn’t talk much,” Mompontet recalls. “He was a humanist, with a great sense of irony and he was very kind.”

Singer Aurora Vargas, in a photo taken by René Robert.
Singer Aurora Vargas, in a photo taken by René Robert.

French photographer Jean-Louis Duzert agrees with this description. “He was humble, he liked to work in the shadows,” he explains. Duzert, a former photojournalist, also discovered flamenco and Robert more or less at the same time. Since then, their friendship and complicity was constant. “We would speak at least once a month to get up to date with shows, concerts…,” he explains. “He would send me his photos and I would send him mine,” he explains, still emotional over the death of someone he saw as a “guide, a master,” and even “a father,” even though there were only 13 years between them. As he wrote in the dedication of one of his books, Robert considered him “a brother of photography.”

Robert published Flamenco (1993), La Rage et la Grâce (or, The rage and the grace, 2001), and Flamenco attitudes (2003). He donated his photographic archives to the National Library of France, and Duzert insists that he was still preparing projects. “We were planning to do a book together about 50 years of flamenco in France,” he explains. “Regrettably, that will no longer happen.”

“Robert didn’t just photograph cantaores and bailaoras [flamenco singers and dancers] but also he tried to portray that kind of catharsis found in flamenco, that tragic spirit, always in black and white,” explains Eduardo Navarro Carrión, cultural manager at the Cervantes Institute in Paris and the organizer of an exhibition that, in 2019, displayed Robert’s photos in Nantes, at the Spanish cinema festival in the same city. Robert explained that when color was used to depict flamenco, it appeared “very touristy” to him. His style was a “very scenic” kind of photography, “in search of the creative moment,” Navarro adds.

“He didn’t want to move to digital,” adds Mompontet. “He liked to develop his photos. It’s curious, because at the same time he was very open to other arts. He loved Caravaggio, his dark scenes, and [flamenco] for him was a tragic representation of life’s extreme feelings. For someone as reserved as he was, that fascinated him.” And despite all of this work, Mompontet explains between giggles, Robert barely spoke any Spanish. “Flamenco is a way of feeling and he had that,” he explains. “That’s why the flamenco artists who were close friends, Camarón, Paco de Lucía, they got along well with him, although I don’t know in which language it was.”

Chema Blanco, an artistic advisor at the Nîmes Flamenco Festival and the director of the Flamenco Biennale in Seville, would share a glass of wine and a lunch with Robert and other figures during the French event. “He was much loved, there were a lot of people who admired him,” he says about this “shortish man.” At those meetings they would discuss “the shows that we had seen. He was very pleasant and had that typically French Bohemian air.” Blanco was impressed how “he looked at and listened to you with close attention.”

Farruco, as immortalized by Robert.
Farruco, as immortalized by Robert.

Flamenco photographer Paco Sánchez, who has been taking portraits of figures from the flamenco scene for 40 years, points out that Robert’s style is very similar to his. “I discovered him years ago and I was surprised, because I saw myself reflected when I was starting out, in the 1970s, with high-contrast photos in black and white, with the veins on the necks of the singers about to burst and the details of the dancers’ hands.” For Sánchez, he was a photographer who was characterized by “simplicity, very direct.” As for his personality, while he didn’t know him personally, he adds that “he was not much seen in the media, and was sparing in interviews.”

The artistic director of the Picasso Museum in Málaga, southern Spain, José Lebrero, was in charge of the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art in Seville when it organized a 2009 exhibition, which showed the role of flamenco in photography. Among the 50 or so featured photographers, with 200 or so images on display, was Robert. Lebrero includes him in “the tradition that there was in France with flamenco related to an interest in the exotic.” His work “formed part of a saga in which the dark side of Spain attracted him; it was more about the tavern and the ritual than esthetic excellence.”

With his death, Duzert laments, “a chapter has been closed in the world of flamenco.”

Juana la del Pipa, in another image by Robert.
Juana la del Pipa, in another image by Robert.

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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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