Monday. 2/12/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Making a scene

Who wouldn’t want to go to Art Basel Miami Beach? A week in the Florida sun, the world’s best galleries gathered in a newly refurbished complex a few blocks away from the sand and, of course, those infamous parties. This fair’s reputation as the wild child of the Art Basel family has always had enormous pull with collectors and journalists.

But there’s another reason why the fair’s location makes it particularly attractive. Florida has always served as a meeting point between North and Latin America. The art inside the halls often reflects this. And as the politics across the continents turns ever more incendiary, the more relevant this fair becomes. It’s a place to explore the relationship – and contrasts – between the US and its southern neighbours.

The debut of a new section called Disruptions, held outdoors in the sea-front Collins Park, should feed into this theme. Born out of a collaboration with Art Basel Cities: Buenos Aires (a new addition to the Basel roster), the exhibition will present works by Argentinian artists with the intent of showing how art can “interfere with everyday life”. Those heading to Miami Beach should expect their balance to be thrown off over the next few days – and not just thanks to morning-after hangovers.

Politics / Thailand

Facing the press

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) will be packed to the rafters this evening to hear from Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. The leader of the country’s opposition Future Forward party will be making his first address to foreign media since the country’s constitutional court found him guilty of violating election laws earlier this month. Future Forward came third in Thailand’s elections in May and its 41-year-old leader has vowed to oust the military-dominated government led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha. But Juangroongruangkit was barred from taking his seat in parliament and is facing a potential jail term or ban from politics that could threaten the future of the party that he co-founded in 2018 (he denies the charges, which he describes as politically motivated). The FCCT, Southeast Asia’s oldest club for journalists, is a fitting forum for this event: the court case in question hinges on whether Juangroongruangkit owned shares in a media company.

Economy / Egypt

Growing pains

The African Economic Conference (AEC) opens today in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The annual conference has become an important cornerstone in formulating economic and social policy across the continent. This year its theme is Jobs, Entrepreneurship and Capacity Development for African Youths. The starchy title belies one of the most pressing issues facing the continent: the rapidly swelling ranks of its young people. Whereas much of the rest of the world is facing a demographic time bomb in the form of ageing populations, Africa’s is young: 60 per cent of its people are aged under 25 and, by 2050, one third of the planet’s youth will be from Sub-Saharan Africa. This could be a poisoned chalice: young populations offer incredible economic potential but the absence of opportunity can lead to collapse. The work of the AEC is vital in addressing these demographic challenges.

Fashion / USA

Put a ring on it

The name Tiffany is on everyone’s lips in the fashion industry due to the company’s recently announced acquisition by LVMH. But there’s another reason for shoppers to be excited about the US jeweller: it has just launched a limited-edition line of men’s jewellery at multi-brand retailer Dover Street Market (DSM). The seven-strong collection of rustic sterling-silver pendants, rings, cufflinks and bracelets will be exclusive to DSM; it will be sold online and at DSM outposts in cities including London, New York and Singapore. The collection forms part of a broader strategy of homing in on the men’s market: in October it launched its first dedicated line for gents. Historically about 50 per cent of Tiffany’s customers have been men but more often than not they’ve been buying pieces for women. Now the brand wants to convince guys to pick up something for themselves. Shoppers would do well to start at DSM.

Culture / Hungary

Let the credits roll in

Online film and TV streaming services have shaken up the world of film and also given lesser-trodden production sites a boost. Take Hungary, for instance. The country has always had strong ties to Hollywood: William Fox, of 20th Century Fox fame, is one of several Hungarian exports who made it big in Los Angeles but not all of its talent left for Beverly Hills. In fact, Hungary’s film industry is booming: not only did homegrown director Laszlo Nemez’s Oscar-winning debut Son of Saul throw a spotlight on its cinema but generous tax rebates have encouraged producers worldwide to shoot on the streets of Budapest and beyond. “Because of the global switch towards video on-demand,” says Mihaly Korom, head of production at Hungary’s largest film studio Origo, “clients such as Netflix have to produce content all the time”. And that keeps Budapest’s studios busy year-round. To find out more about this fairytale story, pick up a copy of our 2020 issue of The Forecast, on newsstands now.

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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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