Saturday 26 February 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 26/2/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Look sharp

How has fashion changed over the past 15 years? To celebrate Monocle’s anniversary issue, we look back to outfits past, before we hear theatre director Ivo van Hove’s Oscar favourites, pick our favourite shows from Arco art fair in Madrid and pay a visit to Radio Tulum to hear what’s hitting the airwaves on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. First: Andrew Tuck’s thoughts from a busy news week.

Opener / Andrew Tuck

Coping mechanisms


On Thursday, just before 04.00 in London, my phone started pinging with news notifications. I looked at the screen: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had begun. I lay there in the dark, unease spreading with every update. Over in Los Angeles, Christopher Lord, our Americas editor, was using the time difference to our advantage to line up Ukraine specialists and people in the country for Monocle 24’s morning radio show that airs from London, The Globalist. Just after 06.00 I phoned Bill Whitehouse from our digital team and told him to cancel The Monocle Minute newsletter sendout: the world had changed since it was filed just a few hours before; it needed to be redone.

And then the day barrelled on: images flashing on the office’s TV screens; news breaking on my phone. At midday I walked down to the studios to listen to Andrew Mueller hosting The Briefing. I sat in the dark of the control room and listened as one guest after another set out the potential scenarios – all of them bleak.

Across the day, as the TV news carried live feeds of Jens Stoltenberg, Boris Johnson or Joe Biden, the volume would be ratcheted up and people would gather to hear what these men thought could be done. It sounded like a few Russians would have to cancel the summer holiday in London and perhaps the yacht order would have to wait a bit – but it was hard to imagine Vladimir Putin breaking a sweat over any of this chatter.

Imbibing too much rolling news can often make you feel as though you might lose your footing. But the response engendered by the invasion of Ukraine by a tyrant – the attempt by Russia to trample over an independent nation’s prized democracy, the squandering of life, the inability of the West to respond – is about more than news anxiety. This isn’t going to be some painful regional reset, such as the abandoning of Afghanistan this year, nor a brutal war such as Syria’s, the repercussions of which can be lived with because their effects are unlikely to change your day. No, this is an event that, as we are quickly realising, resets the world order; it puts in place existential threats for all of us. It is a moment when it is OK to fear; even to feel despair.


Yet. In the evening our executive editor Nolan Giles and I took our new fashion editor, Natalie Theodosi, for a drink (she started on Monday and I had barely said “hello” all week). We went to a nearby hotel and it was packed – not even a space to stand at the bar. We were about to leave when I spotted someone I know who works there and he kindly found us a perch. At the neighbouring tables there were people from all over the world having a blast: smartly dressed Emirati boys on one side of us, a group of partying French on the other. Was I getting this out of proportion? Was the world just as it had been a week or a month ago? Or had my neighbours been dosed up with so much anxiety over the past two years that the invasion of Ukraine was not going to spoil their mood now? Did we just have different techniques for dealing with this age of anxiety?


Do you think it would be possible for TV shows to carry trigger warnings about the fact that they, well, carry trigger warnings? There are lots of things that cause me alarm – films that don’t have Timothée Chalamet in them, for example. But we did this clever thing: we bought a TV with an off button. Honestly, it’s incredible – you just press it and the TV stops working. The trouble with the current trigger-warning rash is that there’s nothing that won’t upset someone. I read the other day about a person triggered by hearing English women speak (sorry, Judi Dench, that’s the end of your career). So where do you stop? Can’t we allow people to be a little bit offended just sometimes? To move on if they don’t like what they see? When you have kids cowering in Kyiv for fear of being blown up, fear of men with real triggers, isn’t it a bit sick trying to filter out every pollen-grain of difficulty from the world around us? Shouldn’t we accept that the world can be upsetting?


And if you like your art world free of triggering connections and potentially suspect patrons, then do not go to the wonderful Museu Fundación Juan March in Palma de Mallorca. I was in Palma last weekend and came upon the glorious building – free entry too – and its art (a Miró here, a Dalí there). I wondered who March was and so looked him up after my visit. Turns out he was the son of a pig farmer who ended up becoming Spain’s richest man and the world’s sixth wealthiest. He was sent to jail for his dodgy business deals, backed Franco and smuggled arms. But today his wealthy descendants oversee his amazing foundation and one of Spain’s great art collections. They seem more at ease with the odd personality dent in Spain; even a bit of what Anglo-folk might call “art-washing”. Hell, they liked March so much they even named a lizard after him – that’s an algyroides marchi about to nibble your toe.

How We Live / Turkish protest songs

Being heard

On one level, the latest release by Turkish popstar Tarkan is a fairly familiar chart hit: a jaunty beat, an emotive vocal, a slick CGI-enhanced video (writes Hannah Lucinda Smith). But there is another reason why “Geççek” (“it will pass”) is blasting from stereos and being shared between friends across Turkey: its lyrics place it firmly in the protest-song category.

On 17 February, “Geççek” went viral within minutes of its release; listeners read deep into lyrics such as “it will go, it will leave as it came” and “enough is enough, we understand it now”. Although the song contains no direct references to Turkish politics, the allusions are clear. President Erdogan is entering his 19th year in office, having served the first 11 as prime minister before changing the constitution to shift his power to the presidency. Polls now show his ratings at an all-time low, with Turks bitter over rampant inflation, the collapse of the lira and the decline of freedoms to the level of Angola and Uganda, according to Freedom House. Some Turks predict that in next year’s elections, voters will show Erdogan the door.

Image: Getty Images

He is unlikely to go without a fight, however. Turkey’s progressive crackdown on freedom of speech has already castrated critical media outlets and is now stretching into popular culture. Last month, Sezen Aksu, a much-loved Turkish popstar, was investigated by prosecutors over a 2017 song that referenced an “ignorant Eve and Adam” (Erdogan is a devout Muslim who is determined to raise a “pious generation” of Turks).

Scores of actors have been blacklisted from mainstream channels over their politics. Pro-government commentators have already suggested that Tarkan is allying with a cultish group that stands accused of launching the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan. Yet prosecuting Tarkan would be a risky move: over the past 30 years he has released countless hits (including the internationally massive “Kiss, Kiss”), constantly reinventing himself in the manner of Madonna and winning adoration from every corner of Turkish society. The singer himself is maintaining a Sphinx-like silence, allowing his song to speak for itself.

House News / Russia attacks Ukraine

To the minute

The situation in Ukraine is fast-moving so stay informed with the latest news and analysis from Kyiv, Moscow, London and Washington on Monocle 24 this weekend. Our upcoming episode of The Foreign Desk airs at midday London time today and includes the thoughts of Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko, former Nato chief Richard Shirreff, Russian journalist Ekaterina Kotrikadze and author Mark Galeotti. You’ll also receive breaking news updates through The Monocle Minute and coverage across the Monocle 24 schedule this weekend.

Anniversary special / Fashion

Outfit of the day

Monocle’s 15th anniversary issue is out now. To celebrate, we asked a host of our favourite writers to think about how the world has changed over the past 15 years. Here, broadcaster and author Peter York looks at the changing face of 2000s fashion.

Design commentator Alfred Tong recently pointed out that, while new BBC hospital comedy-drama This is Going to Hurt is set in 2006, “you wouldn’t really notice” because the fashions – clothes, haircuts, interiors – haven’t changed. The only giveaway is the technology, or lack thereof. Of course, while the clothes might not have changed since the mid-2000s, the organisation of fashion has transformed beyond recognition.

In the 1990s, clever designers changed the game by bringing cultural references from rappers, artists and athletes into relatively mainstream fashion promotion. The idea was to make buyers feel like tribal conspirators recruited to a cause rather than high-street fashion sheep.

Then in the 2000s the internet changed everything all over again: not only how people chose and bought clothes but also how they developed their inspirations and influences. The internet meant that people were looking and liking across a huge range of influences from every country and from every decade. This made things altogether less predictable – not the substantive clothes themselves, of course, but the ways in which we wore them and thought about them. In the 2010s, fashion (on and offline) became so fast and so throwaway that everyone felt dizzy.

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

The 2020s haven’t started very stylishly. Pandemic-induced imprisonment meant that the usual hierarchy of clothing – work and home, week and weekend – just melted away. People with extensive wardrobes barely got out of their sweatpants. The usual sense of elapsed time became confused and fashion time disappeared altogether. The organising principle of fashionability disappeared. After a collective trauma like that, it’s going to be hard to get back to the schedule – but we must all do our bit.

Post-pandemic fashion should be like postwar fashion: a great celebration. Though big cities are still underpopulated because some have opted to stay working from home in those sweatpants, I am beginning to hear the click-clack of smart shoes on paving stones again, which is music to my ears.

York is an author, broadcaster and consultant. His most recent book ‘The War Against the BBC’ was published in 2020 by Penguin. For more thoughts on the past 15 years in music, social values and the economy, pick up a copy of our 15th anniversary issue, which is out now.

The Interrogator / Ivo van Hove

Setting the scene

Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove is truly a renaissance man (writes Annabel Martin). He has won two Olivier Awards, the Flemish Culture Prize and, in 2016, Foreign Policy named him among the world’s top 100 influential thinkers. Since 2001 he has been director of the renowned Internationaal Theater in Amsterdam. He tells us about his favourite recent read, the portrayal of masculinity in The Power of the Dog and Frank Sinatra.

Image: Getty Images

Coffee, tea or juice to go with the morning papers?
While I listen to the news on the radio and prepare breakfast for me and my partner – a bit of oatmeal with fresh fruit – I drink a lukewarm glass of water with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon.

So how do you like your eggs?
Sunny side up, like my mother made them.

Favourite bookshop?
Xantippe Unlimited on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. It’s a small bookshop around the corner. The booksellers care about what they sell and focus on female authors and stories, without excluding male authors.

Which news source do you wake up to?
Always Flemish Radio 1, wherever I am in the world, to stay in touch with the country where I was born.

What are you working on at the moment?
An adaptation of My Dear Favourite – my own translation of the Dutch title – by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld. He won 2020’s International Booker Prize and is hugely talented. It’s a daring and extreme but also very poetic and dark novel about the relationship between an adult man and a 14-year-old girl.

Any film recommendations?
Drive My Car. It’s about theatre, loneliness and humans. It’s just wonderful and should win the Oscar for best picture. If not, The Power of the Dog should win. It’s an intense study of a toxic man and the disaster and pain he causes not only to the people around him but also to himself.

What about books?
Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise, an epic and majestic book featuring lots of lonely people searching for a bit of love in a world suffering from a pandemic. Visionary.

What do you listen to before drifting off?
“L’enfer” from Stromae’s new album and “Watertown” by Frank Sinatra, which has a fabulous intro. It’s from a forgotten but wonderful concept album of the same name.

Photo of the Week / ‘Self Portrait’

Self reflection

The exhibition Surrealism Beyond Borders opened at the Tate Modern in London on Thursday (writes Georgia Bisbas). Spanning 80 years and 50 countries, and featuring film, sculpture and photography, it subverts any idea that the movement, born in Paris in the 1920s, consisted only of wacky paintings and lobsters on telephones.

Image: Courtesy of Jersey Heritage Collections

This photo, titled “Self-Portrait”, is by French artist Claude Cahun. Born Lucy Schwob in Nantes in 1894, she famously said, “Under this mask, another mask.” There are two distinctly different faces in “Self-Portrait”: while a defiant Cahun confronts the camera, the reflected self gazes off somewhere else entirely.

‘Surrealism Beyond Borders’ runs until 29 August.

Culture / Arco, Madrid

On show

Madrid’s Art Week winds to a close tomorrow but if you’re in town for art fair Arco, don’t miss the exhibitions below. And if you weren’t roaming the halls of the feria in the past few days, these shows should entice you into a Spanish stopover soon.

‘Michael Armitage’, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Italian collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo recently launched a new Spanish arm of her contemporary art foundation, which doesn’t have a fixed venue. If the results are shows like this, then that can only be a good thing. This exhibition brings works by British-Kenyan painter Michael Armitage into the secluded Calcografia at the heart of the Academia: a gilded, storied institution that plays host to plenty of Goya’s etchings. Armitage’s work draws from the Spanish master in its crude, raw appeal, particularly in a series of small brown-ink drawings that are being shown here for the first time.

‘Belkis Ayon’, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Last November’s rehanging of the Reina Sofia collection is one of the major arts developments to have happened in Madrid over the past few months. It has given the city what feels like a completely new museum. Much of the new collection has an unapologetically political, radical stance; the Latin American gallery downstairs is a good place to start. If you’re short on time, Cuban artist Belkin Atom’s monochrome collagraphs are shown upstairs in a compact room and the result is as beautiful as it is haunting.

‘Chiara Fumai’, La Casa Encendida. Three exhibitions are running concurrently at this neat, experimental cultural centre. Generation 2022 is a group show dedicated to emerging artists, which offers a view of Spain’s brightest and newest voices. Upstairs is an exhibition dedicated to feminist Italian artist Chiara Fumai, in which a full reproduction of her studio gives visitors a peek into creative methods borrowed from out-of-the-ordinary figures, such as illusionists and psychics. Her installations and provocative collages have a touch of surrealism about them but it’s her voice, emanating from sound installations, that is most enthralling.

Outpost News / Radio Tulum

Shore thing

Near the tip of Mexico’s white-sand Yucatán Peninsula is the hip beach town of Tulum. Radio Tulum is a non-profit community radio station and production house that provides a venue for the town’s musicians to showcase their work. The area has been settled since ancient times and alongside its stunning beaches, it is also home to sacred Mayan ruins. Here, we speak to the station’s founder, Mandeep Bhatia.

Image: Getty Images

How did you get involved with Radio Tulum?
I founded it seven years ago. I wanted to create an independent voice in this magical town. My girlfriend, who is an artist, and I have created an underground place for artists, by artists.

How does being in such a beautiful place influence your work?
Tulum is the basis of it all for us. It’s a special place to be able to find oneself and lose yourself – the place deserves to be honoured for its magnetic energy.

What does your roster sound like?
It’s filled with a range of musical genres; we have something for everyone.

What’s your favourite programme on the schedule?
I have a few that I love, including Journey of a Life Through Music. It explores a musician’s life through their work, stopping at songs that were most influential. And our forthcoming DJs in Space series will be super cool.

Any memorable broadcasting moments?
In general, it’s the legacy of the conversations with people from all walks of life that we are most proud. One moment that stands out was a conversation from Journey of a Life Through Music with our artist in residence, Carlito Dalceggio. We explored a redefinition of the word “freedom”. We discussed the responsibility that comes with the freedom to be able to give to our fellow humans.

What Am I Bid? / Red spinel and diamond ring

Stone age

Anyone who’s ever bought, say, an engagement ring will have been bombarded with statistics about a particular stone’s objective brilliance (writes Alex Briand). Telling its own story about inherent value is a six-carat red spinel and diamond ring that’s going under the gavel tomorrow in Bonhams’ online auction of luxury items in Hong Kong.

Spinel, a deep red mineral, is easily confused with a ruby. In 1783, lavishly named French mineralogist Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de l’Isle was the first to develop a test for telling them apart. It revealed that some of the most famous examples, including a few in the British crown jewels, were in fact spinels. For centuries, the stone was considered an inferior or inauthentic ruby. But in recent years the long-maligned stone has found its audience. This sparkling example is estimated to sell for up to HK$120,000 (€13,561). So either a gem’s value is entirely subjective or, sooner or later, its price will rise to match its real appeal. Either way, if this one is destined for a wedding finger, the highest bidder will be hoping to recieve an answer to match the price.


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