Drawing inspiration from a weaving of dried corn leaves, the Mexico Pavilion – designed by Francisco López Guerra – was easy to recognize from the outside because of its shape, reminiscent of the symbol of Mexican culinary culture. Corn, in fact, originated in this country and, since 2010, UNESCO has recognized it as an Intangible World Heritage of Humanity. The walls, shaped like dried corn leaves (totomoxtle in the Nahuátl language), made from a transparent fabric, filtered the natural sunlight to illuminate the space. At the entrance stood a large magnolia with a channel of water flowing from it which, along with the adjacent garden, recalled the chinampas, the artificial islands that the Toltecs created in lakes and that gave a boost to agricultural development. On tables around the magnolia, a bar serveed drinks along with antojitos, a typical Mexican street food.
Many works of art in a Pavilion that was a sort museum
Climbing the entrance ramp into the heart of the Pavilion, visitors found “Lluvia,” a fountain with a waterfall fed by a circular stream of water created by visual artist Maria José de la Macorra. This was only the first of the many works of art that Mexico hosted in its Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. The flowing water triggered the movement of necklaces representing corn kernels, while the sound was reminiscent of rain.
The third floor contained a description in images of Mexico’s biodiversity, through a virtual game of screens and colors, complemented by Especies endémicas de México, a work by Alejandro Pintado that immortalized a few native species of plants and animals.
On the next level up, a dialog took place between a work characteristic of Central American culture (a statue of Macuilxochitl, the prince of five flowers) and two obsidian sculptures by contemporary artists, while in the background two videos alternated: a tale of the creation and development of corn as the food of life and spiritual energy and a collage of images on the theme of Mexican food identity taken from clips of classic films.
Wooden spoons and disturbing visions on the last floor
On the upper level, the room was dominated by an installation by Alejandro Machorro: 4,700 wooden spoons that covered the ceiling creating a musical frame for the two Trees of Life created by artisan masters from Metepec, and the painting Árbol Nodriza. Following this was a disturbing vision from Chichihuacuauhco, the Nahuátl myth of men who return to childhood by eating the fruit of a holy tree. There was also a space that provided six of the 32 Mexican federal states – a month dedicated to each – with displays and temporary installations dedicated to the specialties of their areas.
In the back of the room, in a virtual, interactive gastronomic set, Mexican chefs guided the visitors through a discovery of the recipes and ingredients that made Mexican cooking famous throughout the world. The second to last ramp, surrounded by cactuses and reguiletes (colorful weathervanes), led to the terrace. Beyond a wide garden of native plants, the visitor could enjoy a dinner at the restaurant “Besame mucho,” which offered Mexican cuisine revisited by the country’s best cooks.