The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 15 February 2017

Image: Getty Images

Tolerance on trial

Local elections are taking place all over Indonesia today but none will be as closely watched as the race in Jakarta. The incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – commonly known as Ahok – was a shoe-in for victory until a seemingly innocuous campaign-trail comment, with reference to the Koran, was whipped up into a blasphemy storm for which he is currently standing trial. Purnama currently leads in the polls but he is not guaranteed to meet the 50 per cent threshold required to avoid a runoff in April, when anti-Ahok voters will likely coalesce around one candidate. Even if he does win, a victory could be quashed by a subsequent guilty verdict.

Image: Getty Images

Old stomping grounds

Fashion houses have become major patrons of Italy’s ancient ruins. Salvatore Ferragamo is backing the reparation of Florence’s Fountain of Neptune, Tod’s has sponsored a restoration of the Colosseum and Fendi has restored – and subsequently staged a show at – the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Now the industry is turning to ancient Greece: yesterday the Central Archaeological Council in Athens met to discuss a request by Gucci to stage an upcoming show at the Acropolis, with the Parthenon providing the backdrop. The council’s decision was, as expected, a "no" on the grounds that the sacred site should not be used for commercial purposes. Yet this seems like a missed opportunity. In the short-term, hosting the show would facilitate a healthy injection of business into the city. Italy has already shown the way, meaning that crumbling monuments can be revamped and appreciated. That can only be a good thing.

Image: Christian Saltas

Photo finish

Stockholm’s contemporary-art gallery Magasin III (named after the warehouse where it’s been housed since 1987) is celebrating its 30th anniversary with two comprehensive solo shows this year. Next to the permanent installation of James Turrell’s Dawning the museum is currently showing a series of old and new pieces by video-art talent Tony Oursler, as well as the recently opened exhibition by Stockholm-based artist Gunnel Wåhlstrand. Her monochrome ink-wash paintings were in large part inspired by a box of photographs she found belonging to her father, who committed suicide when she was just one year old. Whereas Oursler’s installations explore the complexities of technology, Wåhlstrand’s works evoke the emotional journey that the artist has taken to get to know her father and liberate herself from his memory, as expressed in Sandstranden, the first painting based upon one of her own photographs, which has now been added to Magasin III’s singular collection.

Image: Getty Images

Growing pains

Toronto has long been accused of having something of an inferiority complex ​and there is no doubt that Canada’s largest urban centre​ –​ and North America’s fourth biggest​ –​ is in search of itsel​f. ​B​ut what it might find is still something of an open question. In Shawn Micallef’s new book ​Frontier City: Toronto on the Verge of Greatness​, which will be launched in Toronto this evening, the urbanist and writer argues that the city​ has​, since its rapid growth began in the 1970s​, ​become a place of neighbourhoods that are ​fragmenting the city’s sense of itself​. Sporadic infrastructure investment and the divisive years of Rob Ford’s mayoralty ​only ​exacerbated​ the issue​. This, however, is not a problem in Toronto alone​;​ big cities in the throes of swift growth have to confront the same balancing act. According to Micallef, however, Toronto is a city that does not have to be on this​ frontier for much longer – and greatness is there for it to claim, should it want it.

From Monocle 24

Scott Dadich

Netflix has been rightly praised for the resources it has poured into quality original programming. Now the network has released ‘Abstract’, a new documentary series looking at design. We speak to one of the series’ producers, former Wired editor in chief Scott Dadich.

From Monocle Films

On the move

From bus to bike to car, the way we get around is changing and evolving in surprising ways. Who are the interesting innovators developing the networks of the future? Monocle Films set up a global mobility audit at the Monocle Quality of Life Conference in Vienna.

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