There are stories in the UK newspapers of shortages in everything from fresh vegetables to butchers (but before you think that’s good news for Miss Piggy, it isn’t: they will be slaughtered and disposed of, if no sharp man or woman is found). Yet, over breakfast at the Fischer restaurant this week, my art friend from Berlin told me about a European-wide shortage that is really concerning. Apparently, there is a dearth of contemporary works of art exceeding one million euros. During the lockdown, the wealthy, worried that their money was shriveling like a gentleman down in icy water, seemed to pile into buying art like never before and the right galleries suddenly found their bare walls. I’ve had a lot of these crazy conversations this week. Because it’s Frieze Week and the artists and gallery owners (and buyers) are back in London. And, while it can be maddening in some ways, it’s also a hoot. We’ll be heading to the fairgrounds in a minute. But first another exasperating thing: Linkedin.
Our editor, Tom, is the gatekeeper when we hire new employees. And we hire with ambition – foreign editor, fashion journalist, business writer, drivers (just kidding but I might ask). And, like many fools before us, we try to use Linkedin as one of the ways to reach potential candidates. But wow, is that hogwash – or, as Tom eloquently put it, “shit”. The problem is, the platform is full of people who ignore all the details about the qualifications required for a position, or the fact that you need to send a cover letter, and just send you their CV. This week, a man who works as a zookeeper (small animals section) applied for the position of foreign editor. Now, while he may have a network of contacts all over the world, the fact that most of them are covered in scales or fur makes me wonder if they would be of much use to us. . And yes, it’s great that he speaks so many languages. But actually – and I really don’t mean this harshly – the fact that these include Raccoonese and Chipmunklish makes me think before I send him a contract.
I hadn’t really noticed a shortage in our local supermarkets or corner stores, but decided to survey the people around me at work. Sophie, our fine editor of Konfekt magazine, said a chicken was suitably as rare as the hen’s teeth where she resides in London. (Although the editor of Konfekt should have rare breed and fancy feather delicacies living in his garden?). Tom, yes, “poo” Tom, added that he had a hard time getting the olives he loves. Uh. I have a feeling the folks at Monocle should pretty much get out of this crisis.
Back at Frieze, I talked to people about how opening day unfolded. “Bonk! Said an old acquaintance, before running off to pick up another piece of art for an impatient customer. Another had just sold a work for £ 100,000 (€ 118,000) to a woman who had had her interior designer on Facetime to ensure that her art was not only a good investment, but that it would also match the color scheme of his townhouse. I love to observe this upper echelon of private collectors: surgical faces, immaculate hair, a swagger who has just years of making entries.
Monocle 24, our radio group, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week and on Thursday we hosted the Monocle Media Summit in London to mark the moment. Clarissa Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent, spoke about her job: facing the man accused of poisoning Alexei Navalny, working in Afghanistan with the Taliban, as well as navigating emotions (which ultimately must be parked) and the essence of the work (shining a light, witnessing). There was something magnetic about her. You wanted to hear his words. I was hypnotized.
Shopping frieze. I know you should be a little smarter than that, but it’s also good to play an imaginary version of this TV show Supermarket sweep, in which competitors grab what they can out of the aisles at high speed and decide what you would put in your basket to have in your house if your family had looted wealth at some point. I would like one of William Eggleston’s prints from 1974 to be on sale at Xavier Hufkens, please. And certainly one of Deborah Roberts’ amazing collage work examining the images we have of black girls. And, while we’d need a crane more than a cart, Keith Coventry’s “Big Junk 1” – a huge swoosh of blue and yellow on a white canvas, for sale at Pace – would also be nice to look at. own (although, unfortunately, it’s not going to climb the stairs very easily).
There were also a few moments of light at our media summit. Peter York (author, market soothsayer and social commentator) spoke of Condé Nast and his replacement of publishers by “content managers”. He was wonderfully dismissive. “We all know ‘content’ is just another word for mush,” he purred. And the other fun moment was when Clubhouse was mentioned – just a few weeks ago it was heralded as the future of social media and now audiences were laughing at his very name. It was the kind of laugh you could let out when you find a picture of yourself wearing a yellow ra-ra skirt and wondering what on your mind. The sneers made me very happy that radio is our big digital game.
But that’s enough for this week. I have an imminent appointment with a zookeeper (small animal service). Come on, it’s worth a try.