The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 4 March 2017

The value of design

How will Singapore look in 2065 when it turns 100? This is one of the questions being considered at the island nation’s Design Week, which kicked off yesterday and runs until 12 March. With more than 100 events – from design fairs to exhibitions such as Tomorrow: Design Stories of Our Future, in which illustrators and makers envisage their future homes – there is plenty for design aficionados to appreciate. But the Singaporean industry isn’t without its challenges, due in part to the wider public and business community failing to engage with it on a deeper level. Singapore Design Week hopes to change this and Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, the minister for communications and information, urged businesses large and small to consider the value of design at yesterday’s opening.

Image: Alamy

Fighting fumes

The air-pollution levels in Mexico City are through the roof. To tackle the issue the Ministry of Environmental Affairs ruled in 2007 that all major roads were to act as cycling-only lanes on Sundays, which has since attracted about 50,000 cyclists each weekend. To build on the momentum, the ministry is now inviting people of all ages to participate in weekly cycling classes, set to start in the San Juan de Aragón park today. After getting a rental bike and safety kit, participants will be taught not just how to cycle but how to navigate the city’s busy streets safely, as well as how to repair and properly maintain a bike. The initiative, although diminutive in light of the car-dependent populace, will help change minds in a city that surely needs a long-term plan rather than a quick fix.

Hitting the high notes

This sounds like a joke – but isn’t. Deep Throat Choir, Luisa Gerstein’s Hackney-based all-female vocal ensemble have been festival favourites since 2013; gracing the fields of Wilderness, Green Man and Wow at London’s Southbank Centre (you have to imagine the fields there, of course). The power of simple songs sung with many voices is transformative and transporting in the flesh but how do they fare on record? Beautifully. Their new album Be Ok features covers of Amy Winehouse’s “In My Bed” and Little Dragon’s “Ritual Union”, which feel fresh, novel and punchy. Donnie and Joe Emerson’s “Baby” sounds like the Ronettes deputising for Sarah Cracknell in St Etienne. Powerful, empowering and potent stuff indeed.

Art lessons

Contemporary art can be difficult to fathom. Sharks in formaldehyde are a bit of a fishy proposition and Piero Manzoni’s “Merda d’Artista” is literally shit but Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art?, the new book from Thames & Hudson, can help contextualise the contemporary-art canon. The colourful A to Z by curators Kyung An and Jessica Cerasi succinctly explains the role of galleries, public art and certain controversial creations, elucidating the ire-inducing work of some of the biggest names in the game. At its heart the book is also an attempt by the curators to explain their profession to their family and friends; to commit to print exactly what it’s like to come into a gallery and find out that the cleaner has popped a piece of the show in the bin; or to install a column of human fat in the centre of an exhibition (both incidents, we’re told, that have befallen the authors). It’s an open-hearted and accessible affair with one crucial take-home: that curation – the most overused word in any other context – is more than hanging pretty pictures.

From Monocle 24

Before and after ‘Moonlight’

Has the success of ‘Moonlight’ altered the way that we see sex on screen? We ask two curators of London’s BFI Flare. Plus: the censoring of Mae West, a visit to Vienna’s Film Museum and the secrets of programming a film festival.

From Monocle Films

Tracht & Country

The national dress of the alpine region is experiencing a renaissance. Monocle Films dons its lederhosen and heads to the Tracht & Country fair.

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