Monday. 8/7/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Real deal

Picture this. You’re in Rome for a weekend break and there are a few things you don’t want to miss out on: a glimpse of the Colosseum, a peek of the Fori Imperiali and a jaunt up the Spanish Steps. But what about the museums? The queues are long and the halls crowded – do you really need to see that Raffaello in real life? After all, you know what “The School of Athens” looks like.

Since the dawn of mechanical reproduction – from postcards to schoolbooks – the art world has had to emphasise the difference between admiring a replicated image and standing in the presence of great works. But losing yourself in reverie isn’t easy when you’re caught in a herd of tourists. Are you a better art connoisseur if you do go (and suffer those who are there to take their own snaps of the “Mona Lisa”) or if you don’t?

In the UK a new exhibition, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: A Different View, is bringing high-resolution photographs of the Sistine Chapel to Winchester – chopped up, scaled down and stuck on the floor and walls of three venues – so that the curious can get a close look at the frescoes without schlepping to the Vatican. There are obvious advantages. Of course, there’s the access for those who would like to (but can’t) see the real thing for themselves. It’s also a great way of admiring details you’d never spot on a ceiling that’s 21-metres high. Yet forensic examination is not the reason we go to see masterpieces. We go because being there matters: to feel the weight of history and imagine the hand of those who made the work. Perhaps the viewpoint won’t be perfect but that doesn’t matter: you’re not here to take a photo, are you?

Elections / Greece

New blood

Greece has a new prime minister. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leader of the centre-right New Democracy party is expected to meet the president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, to request a mandate to form a government today. Mitsotakis’s victory was something of a cakewalk following the spectacular losses suffered by Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza party in May’s European elections. Greeks became poorer under Tsipras and his successor’s promises of lower taxes, more investment and a return to the negotiating table with EU creditors drew support from younger voters. But now the work begins. We will learn in the coming months whether Mitsotakis is a liberal reformer or just another right-wing populist playing to the gallery.

Politics / Sudan

Beginning of the end?

Sudan came closer to establishing a new governing body this weekend. But there remains a major sticking point: the country’s opposition alliance says that a civilian should lead the new authority but members of the Transitional Military Council want to install one of their own. The protesters are right to be suspicious of the military’s intentions, says Sir William Patey, the UK’s former ambassador to Sudan. “The army is very powerful and its leaders are comfortable with using force to get what they want,” he told The Monocle Minute. “But there is now an agreement in place and every peace must start with an agreement. Anything has to be better than the bloodshed we have seen on the streets of Khartoum.”

History / The US

Faking it

The San Francisco Board of Education has voted to paint over a historic 13-panel mural found inside a public school, at the possible cost of $600,000 (€535,000). The “Life of Washington”, depicting the US’s first president, was painted by Victor Arnautoff, a communist and one of the city’s leading artists during the Great Depression. But its portrayal of Native Americans and black slaves has also rightly been criticised as racist. The school board’s decision to remove the fresco comes as cities around the country have sought to redress historical injustices by felling statues and renaming streets. But the fresco also conveys historical truths: the US was built on racial injustices. Perhaps San Francisco would do well to use the mural as an opportunity to educate, rather than whitewashing the country’s uncomfortable history.

Aviation / Australia

Sea air

After a highly contested race, Australian flag carrier Qantas has chosen Mackay in Queensland as the fortunate host for its second pilot academy. The decision to school the next generation of Australia’s commercial pilots there is attributed to its location: the weather in Mackay tends to be clear and there is plenty of airspace for trainees to hone their skills. As many as 70 locations had been vying to host the academy before the coastal town was selected from a shortlist of seven. The first Qantas pilot academy is in development: classrooms, hangars and student accommodation are currently being built in Toowoomba. The decision to place the second in Mackay is a major coup for the town: an influx of budding pilots is sure to boost the local economy.

M24 / The Menu

How to run a gallery restaurant

A new museum in Tallinn offers inspiration in both art and food. Elsewhere, we meet US chef Amanda Freitag who’s promoting the US through food and find out why Californian olive oil might be the best you’ll taste.

Film / Food & drink

Artisanal Ice Cream

In an ode to summertime, Monocle films hits the road to sample artisanal ice-cream makers with a difference. In Denmark, Japan and Canada we meet the innovators challenging taste buds one scoop at a time.

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