A walk in the rice paddies, among cultivated fields: a visit to the Rice Cluster led to a bucolic, rural environment. The mirrors that covered the faces of the pavilions created an optical illusion of being immersed in a large rice field. The paddies that multiplied in the field of vision introduced visitors to the experience of the countries that produce this extremely valuable cereal, available in many types, including brown, red, polished, parboiled and basmati.
A trip through the world on the rice road, through flavours, images and local artisanship
The trip through the world of rice began with the countries that produce this staple food for almost three billion people: Myanmar, Laos, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sierra Leone and India – represented by the Basmati Pavilion.
Outside of the pavilions, the photography display by Contrasto photographer Gianni Berengo Gardin brought visitors close to farming life and showed images of rice landscapes with those who produce, grow and touch this food. It was a photographic journey into history, civilizations and places through the lens of a great photographer who likes to call himself a “witness to our era”. Also outside the pavilions, one could see machines used to produce rice from the early 1900s: the cluster’s sponsor, Riso Scotti, chose to show its transformation through historic equipment owned by Riseria Scotti, protected by display cases and accompanied by the story of the production processes.
Each country had a dedicated pavilion where they showed their specialties, not only the foods naturally tied to the different kinds of rice, but also those related to typical artisan work. Doors created links between the single spaces, creating a connection between places and histories. Symbols and traditions were reinterpreted and brought to the exhibition spaces. In the Basmati Rice Pavilion, for example, there was an interpretation of the tree of life: the green structure that rose in the centre of the pavilion was immediately visible from the entrance and created an attractive atmosphere that spoke of distant places, calling to mind the nearest Tree of Life, the one present on the Exposition site.
Walking through the pavilions, colours, aromas, evocations all invited visitors to discover the cultures of the different countries: videos were shown that evoked culture and artisan crafts as well as news about tourism. On the outside faces, one could read the informative boards that told the history of rice, its varieties and the research, development and innovation focused on rice. A related exhibition showed what is behind a grain of rice: legacies, knowledge, cultures that could be found in each pavilion.
On the outside there were three small pavilions: one dedicated to Italian basmati rice, one to Indian artisanship and one dedicated to “flying bread” (flatbreads) and basmati sushi.
Discover the countries in the Rice Cluster in the records of Expo Milano 2015
Bangladesh: “Sustainability in Rice Production for Better Life Under Changing Climate”
Cambodia: “Rice Crop Grown on the Cambodian Land Rich in Cultural Heritage”
Myanmar: “Feeding the future with safe, nutritious and traceable rice/food”
Lao People’s Democratic Republic: “Rice Biodiversity – Food and Lao Culture”
Sierra Leone: “Food Security – A Means to the Agenda for Prosperity”
Basmati Pavilion: “A rice that feeds millions of people”