ArtSS in the City: What do Masterchef, Sharks and Hipsters all have in common?

10 October 2013

ArtSS in the City speakers
ArtSS in the City speakers, from left to right:
Christopher Neff, Dr Fiona Allon, Nancy Lee and Professor Duncan Ivison.

High in the skies of the iconic Sydney Tower, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences held its third annual ArtSS in the City alumni event. The theme for the event this year - "What do Masterchef, Sharks and Hipsters all have in common?" is a reflection of the broad range of topics being studied in the faculty and were the talking points of our current young academics who spoke on the night.

The first speaker, Nancy Lee is a PhD candidate in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies. Her engaging topic was Hugs, hysteria, and hero-worship: The idea of the chef on Masterchef. She spoke of the effects of Masterchef and how it is changing the nature of restaurants today. Her research includes interviews with various working chefs in Sydney restaurants including Colin Fassnidge at 4fourteen, Hamish Ingham at The Woods (Four Seasons Hotel), James Parry at Sixpenny and Analiese Gregory, former chef of exclusive restaurant, Quay.

Nancy gave us an exclusive sneak peek at the interviews, in which chefs told her about their experiences of winning awards and the influence of television cooking shows, specifically Channel Ten's cooking show Masterchef.

Analiese Gregory from Quay said to her "after we win things, you get a gradual increase, but with Masterchef, it's instant and it's the next day. The next day, it will be full and it will continue".

Young academic, Dr Fiona Allon, also from the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, spoke next on her recent research on Hipster Urbanism: Cities, Restructuring and the Pop Up: Spatial Fix.

Dr Allon gave an amazing insight into what a 'hipster' is, with her description of 'young men looking like 19th century farmers' to their tendency to 'have an ocean of beard' to the owning of the hilarious 'Rent-A-Chook, a business that allows you to rent out chickens" and a love of indulging in "the pop-up phenomenon'.

Fiona was quick to engage with the audience by quoting a recent article Accused hipsters of killing razor sales, in which "their stubborn refusal to shave off stylish facial hair and stubble has Schick and Gillette worried". She argued that the hipster must have "elaborate facial hair and has become de rigueur if you want to proclaim your serious embrace of organic produce".

Her researched also informed us that the 'Rent-A-Chook' concept has become one the most "booming businesses in metropolitan Sydney' for hipsters". The unfortunate side to this urban movement is dealing with "rogue chickens, intent on pecking their fowl companions to death. It's not supposed to be like that in the hipster universe".

Dr Allon explained the fascination by hipsters with "pop-up shops, pop-up bars, and pop-up cafes" is because "the shops and spaces are both temporary and precarious, and the people who set them up and work in them are most likely the same, precariously employed, on temporary or short-term contracts".

The last speaker of the night, Christopher Neff, is a PhD candidate in the Department of Government and International Relations. His PhD topic is The Politics of Shark Attacks.

Christopher started the session by moving around and interacting with the audience by asking for any questions about sharks, and his ability to answer all questions proved him to be an expert in the area.

He explained that his research is working on changing people's views of shark attacks as "we're in the way, we're not on the menu". Chris also gave us an exclusive into his post-research project work that will include assessing people's feelings after going through the shark tunnels at aquariums.

ArtSS in the City has proven to been a drawcard event for many first-timers including alumna Dorothy Sercombe, who had been looking to reconnect since graduating from the Faculty with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Music. The fun and engaging elements of the night, coupled with the unique Sydney CBD venue, had very much appealed to her. She told us how being high above the city in the Sydney Tower felt like 'being on top of the world'. She felt that this was very fitting for alumni of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences as 'they strive to aim high in life!'.

For photos of the event, please click here: Artss in the city Facebook album

Contact: Kate Macfarlane

Phone: (02) 9351 7454

Email: 1d3837247e1a262b28542b16124550070b0109162e286b0f3e0c5e2601