Culture - Issue 120 - Magazine | Monocle

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High exposure

Photography — South Tyrol

Skiers sliding down the slopes in the northern Italian resort of Kronplatz this season have a new reason to stop off between runs. Lumen, South Tyrol’s Museum of Mountain Photography, has just opened in a restored cable-car building at an altitude of 2,200 metres. The four-floor, snow-white exhibition space overlooking the Pusteral Valley was designed by Brunico-based architect Gerhard Mahlknecht.

From salt and albumen prints of historic alpine expeditions to modern shots of the peaks, the photography on show explores the area’s deep relationship with its mountains via a sideways angle. Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, the majestic landscape of the Dolomites is a conspicuous (and beautiful) presence, but the photos within frame this landscape in the context of the Alpine region’s history and politics. Vintage shots by Joseph Tairraz, Jules Beck and Italy’s alpinist-cum­photographer Vittorio Sella are paired with digital installations, including a dazzling mirror room where images are reflected onto the floor for an immersive, optical-illusion effect.

As part of its programme, the museum will involve photographers directly through talks and debates; it is also set to create its own archive. All temporary exhibitions will zoom in on contemporary photographers, while mountain photography will be used as an opportunity to portray the effects that climate change is having on the fragile ecosystem of the Dolomites and its glaciers.

Part of the permanent exhibition is, rather predictably, dedicated to the region’s most famous alpinist, Reinhold Messner, whose own mountain-themed museum stands on the same peak. Lumen’s best feature, however, comes in the shape of a private darkroom, only open to photographers invited by the institution.

Despite Lumen’s somewhat isolated location, curator and artistic director Manfred Schweigkofler is confident that 80,000 visitors will be skiing up to its doors in the course of its first year alone. “The museum took over three years [to build] but, with the support of our partners, we were able to create a one-of-a kind institution,” he says. Acclaimed chef Norbert Niederkofler’s Alpinn restaurant, which is housed within the space, will also help to draw crowds to this summit. “I know all my local producers by name,” says Niederkofler. “We are fully dependent on season and weather conditions.” In line with Lumen’s mission, his cuisine is focused on making the most of this sometimes harsh and often unforgiving – but always fascinating – terrain.


Antonia Carver

Director, Art Jameel


In a country where the government is linked to nearly every sector, Dubai’s arts scene is something of an anomaly. That reputation was again underscored with the unveiling of the Jameel Arts Centre, the first independent contemporary- arts institution of its kind in the Gulf, underwritten by the Saudi Jameel family. Antonia Carver, Art Jameel’s director, explains why the new 10,000 sq m space is so critical for the region.

What made Dubai the right home for an institution of this kind?
Dubai is a node in the middle of this region, which is underserved by the kind of contemporary-art institution that we want to be. There is a maturing gallery scene and Art Dubai but no contemporary-art museum. There is a gap that we can fill, which enables us to hit lots of different audiences at once because we can contribute to the local art scene and reach a really broad international public.

Dubai’s art scene is markedly different to those in nearby outposts such as Abu Dhabi and Doha. Was that a particular attraction?
It’s part of the DNA of Dubai. It’s a business-oriented entrepreneurial kind of city that encourages a DIY aesthetic. With the Jameel Arts Centre there was a sense that this institution could be a game-changer for the city – and Dubai’s way of going about it is to make everything easy and encourage you. The private sector can take a lead.

In a city of perpetual change, how do you plan to serve your audience long-term?
What’s fundamentally important to us is that Jameel Arts Centre is used and that the community owns it. People should engage on a level where they are really starting to drive the programming themselves. Let’s really embed this institution in the fabric of the city and the country.

Just our type

Retail — Toronto

Joanne Saul and Samara Walbohm first came up with the idea for Type Books while completing their doctorates in Canadian literature at the University of Toronto. Big-box booksellers dominated the city prior to that, but their personal and informed approach to recommending titles has made each of their outposts a community lynchpin.

Opening their third location in an airy corner of Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood marked a new chapter for this underserved community. “We got a lot of support from publishers and customers to open in the Junction; it really needed the kind of selection and service that Type offered,” says Saul. Lining the shelves of custom-made units is hard-to-find Canadian literary fiction and poetry, as well as international titles on design and craft. Many of the books are chosen by other members of the team besides the founders. “They’re more inspired to put those books in people’s hands; it’s an ownership over the selection,” says Walbohm.

Paper profit

Media — Taipei

Based in Taipei’s busy Zhongcheng district, The Affairs is a newspaper that launched last June as a colourful monthly. Thanks to a steady growth in sales (coupled with a cash injection obtained via a crowdfunding campaign), editor Fines Lee (pictured) is now turning it into a biweekly – by investing in the printing hardware necessary to scale up operations. His new folding machines will complement the work of an ultra-precise Japanese printer. “That’s what we have to do in order not to compromise on printing quality – and the reading experience,” he says.

The title’s adventurous take on typography and illustrations – coupled with an approach that’s decidedly more international than classic Chinese-language papers – sealed its success with a globally aware Taiwanese audience. “Our team has grown from three to nine in a year,” says Lee. “We have to make sure the printing can keep up with our scale.”

Climate warriors

Media — New York

David Sassoon and Stacy Feldman started their environmental news website Inside Climate News in 2007 because they felt the climate change issue was not being covered properly in the US. “There was a lot of false balance,” says publisher Sassoon. “We thought there was a role we could play as a useful non-partisan resource outside the green bubble.” Soon they realised the way to stand out from other publications was to focus on long-form, deep-dive investigations. Almost 12 years and one Pulitzer prize (for their story on an oil spill in Kalamazoo) later, the team has grown to 16, spread across the country. Bolstering Inside Climate’s presence outside the big media cities is critical to Sassoon’s strategy. It is in the country’s most rural areas that many climate stories are to be found – and the publication wants to reach a very influential readership.

“Farmers can be an important part of the solution if motivated and educated,” says Sassoon. “We’re heading into the heart of the country. Environment is a very local story. While mega-papers are important, they want to do everything and be the best at everything. An issue like climate change needs someone like us.”

Living with art


The harbour-front Nordhavn district is going to become home to Denmark’s newest (and largest) culture centre: Tunnelfabrikken. As well as exhibition spaces and workshops, this converted factory will house student accommodation.

Fair watch: Arco Madrid

Art — Spain

On 27 February, Madrid’s international art fair will bring 203 galleries from Bucharest to Bergamo and Bogotà in Ifema hall. This year the spotlight is on Peru. For her special exhibition section, Sharon Lerner, curator of contemporary art at the Museo de Arte de Lima, has selected the work of 23 Peruvian artists whose practice reflects on the importance of their origins.

Gallery highlights:

  1. 80m2 Livia Benavides
    Focused on conceptual artists who work on political and social themes, this gallery will present the work of Rita Ponce de Leon and Ximena-Garrido Lecca.
  2. Bombon Projects
    Debuting this year at the “Opening” section (dedicated to young, up-and-coming galleries), Bombon Projects will show emerging Catalan artists Anna Dot and Aldo Urbano.
  3. Luisa Strina
    São Paulo
    Luisa Strina will create a dialogue between female artists from different generations: Anna Maria Maiolino and Magdalena Jitrik.

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