Wednesday 11 October 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 11/10/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Image: Linda Nylind

Culture / Robert Bound

Frozen in time

The Frieze art fair is 20 years old today and I would like to wish it, and all those who sail in it, a very happy birthday. Irrespective of how many – or how few – private viewings, gala openings, gallery dinners, parties, afterparties and after-afterparties you might have enjoyed as a central, or relatively peripheral, character on the Frieze stage, you would still have to call it for what it has been: a bit of a blur and a series of wow-that-escalated-quicklys.

The event that began as something of an art-world upstart in 2003 in a tent in London’s Regent’s Park started to look like the establishment, perhaps as a way of consolidating its existence in the face of the 2008 financial crisis. Now it is one of the world’s most important fairs, having put a smile on the face of the international art community by being generous in its approaches to commissioning great work (Frieze Projects), bold in the discussions that it is prepared to have in public (Frieze Talks) and occasionally just loud, joyous and slightly nuts.

Frieze is now a renowned art brand akin to a luxury good, with fairs in Los Angeles, New York and Seoul, as well as the wonderful Masters event that’s running concurrently in London this week. But it all came from Frieze magazine – isn’t print brilliant? Its founders, Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, socialised and worked with artists, curators and galleries – and, presumably, some blokes who knew how to erect a tent. The response from globetrotting art collectors was to come in droves.

The joy of Frieze is its canny ability to be curatorially rigorous, commercially steely – the mighty auction houses changed their calendars to cosy up to Frieze-attending collectors – and a very genuine product of the highly creative city that is its cradle. Many will raise a glass to Frieze this week, a purveyor of wonderful moments and memories.

Robert Bound is Monocle’s senior correspondent and presenter of ‘Monocle on Culture’, on Monocle Radio. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Man in the middle: Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Image: Getty Images

Affairs / Israel, Palestine & Egypt

Balancing act

Egyptian diplomats have been in close contact with their Israeli and Palestinian counterparts in an attempt to prevent a further escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Cairo has often played the role of mediator between Israel and Palestine as it borders the territory claimed by both. Egypt has always had ties to the latter, though it was the first Arab country to recognise the State of Israel and, in recent years, has grown closer to the nation.

Since Saturday, Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has spoken to Emirati, Jordanian and Palestinian diplomats as well as Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz. Cairo has claimed that its goal is to prevent both the continued bombardment of the Gaza Strip and the safe return of Israeli hostages held in the territory. Its valiant efforts are yet to yield any concrete results.

For the latest updates on the conflict in the Middle East, tune in to Monocle Radio’s daily shows. ‘The Globalist’ airs at 07.00 London time, ‘The Briefing’ at 12.00 and ‘The Daily’ at 18.00.

Politics / USA

House divided

Republican lawmakers will hold an internal party vote today to elect a replacement for Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives, who was ousted last week. Internal ballots usually require a simple majority for a candidate to win but any eventual victor might instead need the support of their entire party conference – all 217 House Republicans – to prevail this week. That precedent was set in January 2023 when McCarthy was chosen by the majority but was, nevertheless, opposed in repeated rounds of voting on the House floor by a minority of Republicans. McCarthy is complicating matters further by leaving himself open to return. “Whatever the conference wants, I will do,” he said on Monday. The fact that Republican lawmakers are loath to accept the will of the majority is a worrying sign of discord – and it doesn’t bode well for working with Democrats in a divided government going forward.

Transport / Indonesia & China

Off the rails?

Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, was so eager to open the country’s long-awaited 142km-long Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway earlier this month that he did so without having fully covered the costs of operations. Now, Indonesian officials are hoping to secure a further $560m (€529m) loan from China at the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing next week.

Image: Alamy
Image: Alamy

The project is China’s highest-profile BRF project in Southeast Asia, cutting travel times between the capital and Bandung from three and a half hours to just 40 minutes. But it has taken more than seven years of delayed construction and funds to complete the railway have been mismanaged. China has asked the Indonesian government for a guarantee on the loan, whose terms are yet to be made public, but the more indebted Widodo’s country becomes, the harder China’s grip in the region tightens.

Beyond the Headlines

Catherine Deneuve in ‘Bernadette’

Image: Orange Studios

The List / Paris

Outside the box

Monocle Radio’s senior correspondent and culture curator, Fernando Augusto Pacheco, offers his suggestions of what to read, watch and listen to if you happen to find yourself in Paris this autumn.

‘La Tribune Dimanche’. The Sunday newspaper market is heating up in France. Last week marked the release of a new addition to the line-up: La Tribune Dimanche. The publication, which offers a broader range of stories than its daily version, has an initial circulation volume of 120,000 issues. Other Sunday papers to read include Le Parisien Aujourd’hui en France and Le Journal du Dimanche.
Read the latest edition of ‘La Tribune Dimanche’ here

‘Bernadette’. French icon Catherine Deneuve stars in this satirical biopic of Bernadette Chirac. Though Chirac’s family was not overly happy with the film, it has proved to be popular at the box office, with the public enjoying the actress’s portrayal of France’s former first lady. It is impossible not to smile at Deneuve trying on outfits to the sound of Dr Alban’s “Sing Hallelujah” in the trailer.
Watch the trailer here

‘Carrossel do Tempo’, Polo & Pan. This new EP by the French duo is a cinematic delight. Highlights include the title track, which has mysterious vocals by Brazilian singer Abrão. Other tracks such as “Charanga” take you on a journey to the South American rave scene and “Nagori” is breezy pop at its best.
Listen to the EP here

Image: Alamy

Monocle Radio / The Menu

Pike Place Market, Seattle

This week we explore Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. Pike Place Market is the oldest and largest continuously running farmers’ market in the US. And to many, it’s even considered the soul of Seattle. From the fresh seafood that lines the stalls to the home of the first Starbucks shop, Pike Place Market is a must-visit for both locals and visitors alike. Our guide to the market is Monocle’s Sheena Rossiter.


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