Everything started when homo sapiens sapiens first appeared on Earth and instinctively felt the need to find food. If the adventure of Man started in the Year Zero of nutrition, the journey that visitors make through Expo Milano 2015 starts from Pavilion Zero that deals with the theme of food and nutrition by going through all its phases through emotional processes, symbolic languages, evocative images, original music especially created. A theme which is closely related to the roots of our country, that in ancient times was called “Oenotria” (meaning the land of wine) and then Italy (meaning the land of calves).
The visit starts from the beautiful Library of Memory, in wood carved by skilful cabinet makers, belonging to that architectural craftsmen’s group that made the fortune of Fellini’s Cinecittà and that is now disappearing, as Giancarlo Basili underlined. The story continues with the projection of a video made by Mario Martone and focused on the four arts (hunting, fishing, agriculture and breeding) and with the surprising reconstruction of a 23-metre-high tree that comes out from the top of the dome so as to stress the supremacy of Nature: the over 30,000 leaves of its crown have been attached one by one by hand by expert artisans.
In another room, fruit and vegetables from all over the world are offered to the eye thanks to projections and chromatic effects, while in the room on animal domestication statues and paintings made by artisans-set designers reproduce animal species. Then you enter into the Valley of Civilization where a Kaori wooden table, dating back to 40,000 years ago and created by a wood master like Maurizio Riva, reproduces Pangaea.
In the Room of Instruments, there are tools, utensils and machines that tell the story and the habits of Man who was at first a hunter, then a harvester and finally a farmer and a breeder able to change the environment. If you continue, a huge jar, together with amphorae, bowls, goatskins show the ancient art of food preservation that marked the beginning of market and trade.
The advent of the industrial revolution, which takes up a space of 320 sq.m., changed the relationship between Man and the environment thus changing natural landscapes, while a 10 metres by 30 metres wall, consisting of 500 screens, tackles the themes of food sale, communication and consumption in modern times.
Pavilion Zero also underlines the problem of food waste, which has now become a lifestyle, with an installation consisting of a heap of waste: modern Man wastes 30% of what is produced.
A big screen projects scenes that have made the history of cinema in which food is the main player. There are even the disasters caused by Man that can be seen through a crack, a way of making you think and never forget.
The itinerary ends with two positive messages. That of the Room of Landscapes: 12 projections of landscapes in 12 different countries with virtuous examples of working farmers and of environment- aware food industries. And the Room of the Five Stories with the best cooperation projects for development.
An itinerary in which – through light, music, noise, the Italian craftsmen’s tradition and the help of the most cutting-edge technologies – you get to understand and gain more knowledge about the theme of food. So simple and so complex.
Text by Danilo Signorello – photo by Efrem Raimondi