Monday 30 March 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 30/3/2020

The Monocle Minute

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Opinion / Chiara Rimella

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Photography magazine Perimetro was born to celebrate Milan through the eyes of the city’s snappers. Now that the region of Lombardy finds itself as the epicentre of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, founder Sebastiano Leddi has decided to call on photographers for a different cause.

As part of 100 Fotografi per Bergamo, 100 photographers from around the country were invited to submit an image, prints of which will be sold for €100 each. All takings will go towards equipment for a hospital in Bergamo, one of the hardest-hit cities in the region. Despite being stuck at home with no projects on their hands, all photographers gladly agreed to donate their work to charity. “Photographers may sometimes be in competition with one another but they all took part with the same energy and willingness,” says Leddi. “In Italy, right now, the overwhelming sentiment is to put the safety of people ahead of everything else. Everyone is in difficulty but everyone wants to help.”

Globally renowned names such as Oliviero Toscani are taking part, as well as snappers who have long contributed to the pages of Monocle, such as Andy Massaccesi and Mattia Balsamini (whose work is pictured). “I hope that this will bring a positive message,” says Massaccesi, whose cheeky image of two hands reaching for suggestively shaped rooftops is on sale on the site. “And we hope that it will be remembered over the next few months, when help for photographers will also be fundamental.” Helping each other any way we can – and sharing beautiful photography at the same time – can only be a good thing.

Image: Shutterstock

Defence / EU

Border politics

EU border agency Frontex has temporarily suspended many of its less urgent operations but one country continues to see a full deployment: Greece. Its security forces have been struggling since Turkey’s political decision in late February to allow thousands of refugees to travel towards its Mediterranean neighbour. At the Evros land border in particular, pitched battles involving tear gas and battering rams have flared up regularly, prompting various EU member states to send reinforcements, such as Austria deploying members of its Eko Cobra Special Operations Tactical Unit. In a bid to deter more arrivals (Greece already hosts some 90,000 refugees) parliament suspended the asylum-application process entirely for anyone arriving in March – illegal under EU and international law. Whether it will work remains to be seen but with camps already dangerously overcrowded and a virus outbreak imminent, Europe might need more than force to solve this tinderbox of a situation.

Image: Shutterstock

Elections / South Korea

Spoiled ballots

South Korean authorities cancelled absentee ballot procedures in 17 countries last week, bringing disappointment to its expatriates who were looking forward to exercising their democratic rights in the 15 April legislative elections. The electoral process has been fully suspended in countries including the UK and Italy until at least 6 April, which is too late for votes to count later in the month.

The impact of coronavirus has been one of wholesale disruptions that stretch well beyond healthcare and the economy, and South Korea’s is far from the first democratic process to be interrupted by the pandemic. The second round of French municipal elections were postponed and so too were local elections in the UK (including London’s mayoral elections), which have been delayed until next year. The virus offers a unique challenge to leaders but also, it would seem, some time for them to get their acts together before facing voters.

Image: Getty Images

Health / Global

Time to take five

In a time when businesses big and small are trying to find creative ways to give back and do what they can to help in the fight, California-based mindfulness app Headspace is showing its support for healthcare workers by giving free access to the platform for everyone working in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Until the end of the year, it hopes that more than 1.2 million NHS employees will be able to find a daily moment of clarity. “We know that this isn’t going to be the answer to the things they’re trying to solve,” says CEO and co-founder Rich Pierson. “It’s a small thing in a very big situation. But I think that trying to catch your breath even a few times throughout the day could change the experience of living through something as difficult as all those frontline workers are.”

Arts / UK

Creative economy

The UK government last week agreed to pay up to 80 per cent of the monthly salaries not just of furloughed full-time staff but also of many freelancers facing lost earnings due to coronavirus. It’s an unprecedented move that is especially crucial to the health and survival of the creative industries, according to Sir Nicholas Serota (pictured), chair of Arts Council England and former director of Tate galleries between 1988 and 2017. For Serota, whose own organisation is spending another £160m (€180m) to support artists during these times, it marks an acknowledgment that the creative industries aren’t just good for the soul but important for business. “There is a very, very good economic reason to support these industries – and culture and the arts generally – as well as obviously the social impact and the benefit it brings to individuals,” he said on Monocle 24’s The Globalist. “The arts and culture are a significant part of our long-term future.”

Image: Shutterstock

M24 / The Foreign Desk

A century of multilateralism

If we date modern multilateralism from the founding of the League of Nations, it is an idea which celebrates its hundredth birthday this year. As the world attempts to tackle a global crisis, what have our multilateral institutions learned? Andrew Mueller is joined by Sarah Cliffe, Edward Girardet and John Everard.

Monocle films / Porto

Making it in Porto

Portugal’s second city is close to the country’s manufacturing heart and that’s why so many designers have made it their home. We meet some of the bright minds in town.


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