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Food for the soul: culture in Expo Milano 2015

Culture / -

Sebastiao Salgado
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015

Expo Milano 2015 is centered on the theme of nourishment: but reflections and discussions on food for the body, and the challenges facing mankind in ensuring healthy, secure and sufficient nutrition now and in the near future cannot be totally separated from nourishment for the soul, the food that feeds our thoughts, desires and sensibility.

This Universal Exposition has been determined from the beginning to include humanistic values and culture in its focus, considering it a crucial dimension of improving standards of living and a tool for tackling urgent practical problems: the enrichment derived from reflection and discussion on all kinds of issues helps to generate the intellectual, critical and methodological instruments – and the inner determination and drive – to confront the main Expo Theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Consequently, Culture as expressed through photography, literature, cinema, music and art, has always been present and encouraged in this Universal Exposition, always connecting it with the human spirit, the profound human values, which have always in all cultures been attached to the concept of food.
Photography: show the planet, in order to feed it
The earth, the ingredients, the work put in by people: Expo Milano 2015 invited nine great photographers from Magnum/Contrasto to express the Expo Theme through their work inside the various Clusters. A voyage around the world, showing food supply chains, traditions, faces and places: through their different individual languages these photographers have helped to reveal different nations to the over 20 million visitors from all over the world.  Ferdinando Scianna for the Bio-Mediterraneum Cluster, Martin Parr for the Cocoa Cluster, Gianni Berengo Gardin for the Rice Cluster, Alex Webb for the Spices Cluster, Irene Kung for the Fruit and Legumes Cluster, Alessandra Sanguinetti for the Islands, Sea and Food Cluster, Joel Meyerowitz for the Cereals and Tubers Cluster, George Steinmetz for the Arid Zones Cluster and Sebastião Salgado for the Coffee Cluster. Through reportage and anthropology, visions of nature and of art, their photos powerfully convey the image of a planet of incredible richness and diversity, asking to be loved and protected.
Literature: a voyage through history, bringing food through words
Carrying sensibility, delicacy, awareness and thought across the centuries, speaking across time and across languages: the work of writers and poets has always been engaged with, and enamored of, the beauty of our planet. Their works transport messages and share experiences, whether in poetry or prose, and help to inspire and drive the kind of tides of opinion needed to face global problems… feeding the planet by feeding the minds and hearts of the world.
Cinema and Theater: open air shows
The Universal Exposition has expressed its values by becoming a kind of film set: the set designer Dante Ferretti specially created an Italian-style market, with stalls of typical Italian products scattered along the Decumano, depicting tales of trade, taste and sociability. Then there are the 22 statues of the installation with the pacific “Guardians of Food”, which represent the raw materials of food. Plus the culture of film and video pervades every single pavilion, displaying the world and its foods. Theater too has interpreted the theme of nourishment: ALLAVITA!, the spectacular show created especially by the Cirque du Soleil, has joyfully dramatized food themes through the marvels of contemporary circus arts, including dance, acrobatics, clowns, powerful original music and stunning costumes, make-up and multimedia projections.
Art: beauty as nourishment
A journey through beauty, in various forms of artistic expression throughout history: art incarnates the spirit of each age and crystalizes it, rendering it eternal. The many-dimensioned relationship between art and food has been displayed in Arts & Foods. Rituals since 1851, a thematic area exhibiting the various visual and plastic languages, and objects and furnishing which from the first Universal Exposition in 1851 to today have been associated with nourishment and conviviality. But beyond conventional forms of painting and sculpture, artistic installations of all kinds have enriched the Expo Site during its six months of extravagant life, turning it into a vast open air artistic salon, with millions of visitors strolling between artistic representations of food and nourishment… looking at, touching and listening to the unlimited wonders of food.

Over a million people are already #FoodConscious. What about you?

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