The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 30 December 2017

Culture

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Museum mania

The next 12 months will see a raft of new cultural institutions open their doors, some in less-likely locations.

From the Zeitz Mocaa in Cape Town to China’s Design Society, this year has seen an explosion of new museums around the world – and there’s no end in sight. In 2018 we’ll see institutions such as the V&A Museum of Design Dundee and Lafayette Anticipation – an arm of the famous Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette – throw open their doors. Although culture spending is down in many cities, museum visits are on the up, mainly thanks to foreign visitors. Museums are a draw for tourists and, while cities such as London and New York have enough attractions and don’t need another Moma, more obscure destinations could benefit from a few new institutions designed by headline-making architects.

Soft power

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Kicking off

Even if Iceland don’t last long in their first-ever World Cup, their presence is a score.

Iceland already punches above its weight in the soft-power stakes but in recent years the tiny island nation has found another strength: football. With a population of just 334,000, the country will be the smallest nation ever to play in a Fifa World Cup, the next of which takes place in Russia in 2018. Even non-sports fans have been charmed by Iceland’s rise, from the fact that the team’s manager, Heimir Hallgrimsson, works as a part-time dentist when he’s not leading the squad to the team’s surprise run at Euro 2016, which introduced the world to their fans’ thunderous clap. As their first World Cup game is against Argentina on 16 June, they may not last long in the tournament – but for Iceland the real victory could be in how they play the (soft-power) game.

Science

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Get the green light

Plants are perfect for brightening up the office but their efforts could soon become much more literal.

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Boston, are designing the lamp of the future, which also happens to be a plant – watercress to be specific. By inserting specialised nanoparticles into the leaves of the aquatic plant, researchers have managed to make the cress glow for almost four hours. In the near future electric desk lamps could be substituted with plants powered by their own energy metabolism to light up workspaces. Further down the line this technology could also be used to illuminate entire rooms and transform trees into self-powered streetlights to make cities even greener in every sense of the word.

Culture

Image: Alamy

Not caving in

Aussie auteur Nick Cave is maintaining his momentum heading into 2018, with music, performance art and more.

It’s been a stellar run of late for Australian musician and artist Nick Cave, with Skeleton Tree, his 2016 album with the Bad Seeds, followed by an uplifting world tour in 2017. That this run comes following tragedy – Cave’s 15-year-old son died in 2015 after falling from a cliff in Brighton – makes his output all the more impressive. It’s not about to let up either: Cave still has more scheduled shows for 2018 and, beginning in June, his exhibition The Let Go, which is part installation, part performance, will transform New York’s Park Avenue Armory into a town hall for the community devoted not to talk but to dance. The exhibit will also feature a series of Cave’s own Up Right performances, as well as those from other artists.

From Monocle 24

The Monocle Mixtape: 2017 favourites

Sessions at Midori House

We recap some of our favourite live performances from 2017, by the likes of Noga Erez, Jordan Rakei and Blue Hawaii.

From Monocle Films

Soft Power Survey 2017/18

Who's in and who's out in 2017? We survey the top 25 nations who got it right (and wrong) in this most delicate of diplomatic skills.

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