Friday. 18/6/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Here and now

Services ranging from healthcare to policing have had to engage in “rapid-response” activities over the past year. Museums have learned to do the same with their collections, issuing call-outs from early on in the pandemic for art pieces to bear witness to this historical moment. The V&A in London has in fact had its Rapid Response Collecting programme in place since 2014. This weekend it marks the opening of a new gallery, which will show items from that pool.

Design 1900 – Now is the V&A’s latest permanent display, tracing the effect of design on people’s lives, attitudes and habits over the past century. The gallery (pictured) is organised by theme, from “automation and labour” to “consumption and identity”. New pieces include Nigeria’s 2018 football World Cup kit and Kim Kardashian’s book, as well as coronavirus-related items including hands-free door-openers and the British Vogue cover dedicated to key workers.

The rush to accumulate objects during the pandemic – coupled with a profound questioning of colonial collections and their provenance – has created existential questions for museums. Serving merely as bastions of simple narratives of the past is no longer an option: every museum director wants (and needs) to make their collection dynamic, whether they’re focused on contemporary installations or Roman remains. This will be harder for some than others but after a year of forced closures, museums have already had the chance to experiment with being more nimble – and flexible. Perhaps other institutions should consider a “rapid response collection” of their own.

Image: Shutterstock

Elections / France

Right turn

France will hold elections across 13 regions on Sunday and the outlook in the south offers fresh cause for concern for the country’s political mainstream. In Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, the far-right National Rally’s candidate, Thierry Mariani is poised to claim victory in an otherwise fragmented political field. Although the role of regional leaders is largely administrative, it would be the first time that the party led by Marine Le Pen (pictured, on right, with Mariani) has taken a regional seat and follows major inroads it made in local elections across the south last year. “The symbolism is huge,” says Marseille-based political consultant Mary Fitzgerald. Could it be a harbinger of success for Le Pen in the 2022 presidential elections? Not necessarily. “We’ve seen that while the National Rally can appear to be polling well on the national stage, at the last minute there is often an alliance to keep them out,” says Fitzgerald. Still, the party’s growing grassroots support increasingly makes it a force to be reckoned with.

For more from Fitzgerald and other experts on the French regional elections, listen to today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Travel / EU

En route

Sixteen European countries are now using digital vaccine passports that should help to make travel possible for vaccinated citizens across the EU. The EU Digital Covid Certificate (EUDCC) is now being issued in more than half of the EU’s member states, as well as Iceland, with more countries expected to join when the certificate is deployed across the continent on 1 July.

The scheme’s efficiency stands in stark contrast to the bungled plans of Boris Johnson’s UK government, which is facing a lawsuit from Ryanair and the owner of Manchester airport over a lack of transparency and consistency in its traffic-light system for overseas travel. “The one thing the travel industry wants at the moment is some kind of certainty,” Murdo Morrison of aviation news site Flightglobal told [The Briefing] (https://monocle.com/radio/shows/the-briefing/2524/) on Monocle 24. “It has been chaos.” Reports that the UK is considering co-operating with the EUDCC are promising but it will need to work closely with the EU to avoid a turbulent summer.

Image: Getty Images

Society / USA

Let freedom ring

On 19 June 1865, Texas became the last state to emancipate its slaves after the American Civil War – a full two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s executive order. But in 1980 it became the first state to recognise that moment as an official state holiday. Some 48 of 50 states have followed suit since then and US lawmakers have this week made “Juneteenth” a federal holiday across the country. This year, federal workers have the day off today as Juneteenth falls on a Saturday. Marking the day when a union general told slaves in the Texan city of Galveston that they were free, the law’s passage was a rare show of bipartisanship in Congress after a number of failed previous attempts. It’s a welcome sign of America’s newfound willingness to reckon with – and even celebrate – the more complicated moments of its own history.

Image: Alamy

Urbanism / Hong Kong

Razing agents

The Hong Kong General Post Office (pictured), a historic building completed in 1976 on Hong Kong’s waterfront, is set to be demolished as part of a harbourfront commercial redevelopment. The sale of the site is expected to reach between HK$40bn (€4.25bn) and HK$60bn (€6.5bn). And while that could make it the most expensive sale in the city’s history, many architects and heritage advocates have called on the city government to preserve and repurpose the building instead. “The government simply doesn’t recognise the architectural and historical value of the General Post Office, and sees it as an obstruction to the development of the site,” Hong Kong architect and historian Charles Lai tells The Monocle Minute. “It is disappointing to see such a cultural and historical site replaced by generic commercial developments – and it’s definitely a huge missed opportunity for adaptive reuse.” We’d encourage the government to listen to Hong Kong’s architectural community: a hasty demolition represents a permanent cultural loss.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Nordic Knots and The True Honey Co

Liza Lazerow and Fabian Berglund are two of the co-founders of Nordic Knots, a Stockholm-based brand making rugs inspired by natural light in the Nordics and classic Scandinavian design. Plus: we meet Jim McMillan, the founder of The True Honey Co, a brand he was inspired to launch in 2013 after flying over hills of Mānuka flowers in remote parts of New Zealand’s north island as a helicopter pilot.

Monocle Films / Global

The Monocle Book of Homes

Allow us to introduce you to our new publication, The Monocle Book of Homes. A guide to exceptional residences, the title is packed with beautiful photography, inspiring stories ­and few tips on making the most of your living space. So what are you waiting for? Come on in. Available now at The Monocle Shop.

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