Thursday. 30/9/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Victoria and Albert Museum

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Playing to the gallery

I owe my love of art to my parents. If they hadn’t taken me to exhibitions as a child and thought of ways to make me care about what I was seeing, I wouldn’t enjoy galleries as much as I do today. In Italy in the early 1990s, very few museums had come up with a strategy to engage young visitors; audio guides were the height of multimedia innovation and parents were hard-pressed to find any kind of programming aimed at children.

My mother took matters into her own hands. In front of massive Renaissance paintings she would ask me to spot animals hiding in the foliage; inside Florence’s frescoed convent of San Marco I was told to imagine a Fra Angelico-painted room as my own. Today a thriving industry of art-themed goodies has emerged at museum gift shops and plenty of institutions have developed interactive games to stave off boredom among younger audiences. Yet the conversation around “reaching a new demographic” has largely centred on how much a gallery or museum is willing to veer into the digital realm.

When I learnt that the V&A’s Museum of Childhood in east London was rebranding as the Young V&A, I worried. Would this wholesome slice of nostalgia, with its displays of wooden toys, be relegated to the past? In fact, the aim of its £13m (€15m) refurbishment is to turn the venue from somewhere that’s dedicated to the social history of childhood to a museum for children: a place where they can view works, such as David Hockney prints, in a space that’s framed for them. The repurposed gallery, opening in 2023, will encourage children to get stuck in – to play, design, draw. I hope that it won’t feel compelled to sell NFTs of its collections. Often, making a new generation fall in love with art is just about addressing them directly and, sometimes, asking them to find the monkey hiding in the painting.

Image: Getty Images

Geopolitics / The Balkans

Watchful eye

Nato peacekeepers have stepped up patrols along Kosovo’s 380 km-long border with Serbia amid some of the worst tensions in the region in a decade. Relations deteriorated last week when the Kosovan government decided to send special police units to the north of the country, which is populated by ethnic Serbs who reject the authority of leaders in Pristina. The Nato alliance, which played a pivotal role in ending the war in Kosovo in the late 1990s, is clearly eager to avoid any further escalation. “We effectively put a fire blanket over the deep and long-seated differences between the various factions and groups in the region,” Major General Tim Cross, who commanded a brigade in the Yugoslav War in 1999, tells The Monocle Minute. “The idea of a Greater Serbia is still very much embedded in Serb psyche and Nato quite rightly wants to prevent any potential flashpoints.”

Nato peacekeepers have stepped up patrols along Kosovo’s 380 km-long border with Serbia amid some of the worst tensions in the region in a decade. Relations deteriorated last week when the Kosovan government decided to send special police units to the north of the country, which is populated by ethnic Serbs who reject the authority of leaders in Pristina. The Nato alliance, which played a pivotal role in ending the war in Kosovo in the late 1990s, is clearly eager to avoid any further escalation. “We effectively put a fire blanket over the deep and long-seated differences between the various factions and groups in the region,” Major General Tim Cross, who commanded a brigade in the Yugoslav War in 1999, tells The Monocle Minute. “The idea of a Greater Serbia is still very much embedded in Serb psyche and Nato quite rightly wants to prevent any potential flashpoints.”

Image: Getty Images

Ecology / Australia

Parks and recreation

The Australian government has returned Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest, to its previous Indigenous custodians. Following four years of negotiations, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people will now manage the national park alongside the state government.

The 180 million-year-old expanse is renowned for its ancient ecosystem, picture-perfect landscapes and close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, all of which have made it a popular destination for tourists. The country’s environment minister Meaghan Scanlon suggests that a vital aspect of the deal is allowing the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people to “share it with visitors, as they become leaders in the tourism industry”, receiving government funding and first option on national park contracts. It’s a progressive solution to a long-standing dispute over the ownership of resources and, if successful, could be something we see replicated elsewhere.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / The Philippines

Gloves are off

Former world champion Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao (pictured, on right) has quit what he calls “the greatest sport in the world” to focus on his political career. Pacquiao – “Pacman” to his fans – was elected a congressman in 2010 and a senator in 2016. He now hopes to replace his former ally, president Rodrigo Duterte, in next year’s election. So what are the chances that the fundamentalist Christian, pro-death-penalty fighter will score a knockout?

Name recognition and a reputation as a winner are valuable in the Philippines’ celebrity-obsessed political culture but there are doubts about whether Pacquiao has the political nous or mettle to govern a country that’s facing entrenched social, economic and health problems after one of Asia’s most severe and prolonged coronavirus outbreaks. Pacquiao might know when to pull his punches in the ring but, having already made an enemy of the popular Duterte, he can’t afford to let his guard slip in the bout ahead.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Japan

Vote of confidence

Fumio Kishida (pictured, on right) has been elected the new leader of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which also will make him the country’s new prime minister. The 64-year-old, who lost to Yoshihide Suga in the previous LDP leadership election last September, won this time against three initial contenders and, despite not being the favourite, his election is hardly a surprise. He is a third-generation politician with the right CV, having served as foreign minister under former prime minister Shinzō Abe. Opposition leader Yukio Edano said the result shows that the LDP hasn’t changed its thinking even though Kishida has promised to address public concerns. “I heard from many people that their voices are not reaching the political arena and that they have lost their faith in politics,” he said in a victory speech. “I felt that democracy in our country is in crisis.” Kishida heard right; distrust of politicians in Japan currently runs deep. We’ll know after this summer’s general election whether the new prime minister can gain the public’s confidence.

Image: Leo Fabrizio

M24 / Monocle On Design

Rebuilding Beirut

We reflect on the rebuilding of Beirut following the blast last year at the city’s port; visit a new showcase on biophilic design; and discover why the Royal College of Art’s new campus is growing to include facilities for robotics, science and technology.

Monocle Films / Japan

The international icon: Kengo Kuma

The beauty of Japanese design has won fans around the world but it takes great panache to translate it to large-scale projects. We sit down with architect Kengo Kuma in his Tokyo office to talk about the recently completed Japan National Stadium. It’s a building that has given a new lease of life to traditional craftsmanship and stimulated local economies.

/

sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now

Loading...

/

15

15

Live

00:00 01:00