We’re here because…oh, never mind: Every African Pavilion and some Middle East ones as well
When I think great food nations, I don’t automatically think of African nations and that’s totally my ignorance. And also, seemingly the designers of many of the African pavilions. Most of countries exhibiting just used it as an excuse to get out of their war ravaged, barren badlands. And using the event as a chance to shill their cheap souvenirs so they can fund the return journey. Most of the staff manning the displays were a second cousin of the country’s
dictator president and they spent most of their time on smart phones tweeting their appreciation to the Supreme Leader, giving thanks for being selected to hold the role of cultural attaché in Italy. The photo below says it all. The organic cultural products have been shunted to the back while cheap necklaces and trinkets hold the coveted up-front position.
The “Hey! That’s really cool! Award” goes to Belgium for the Wheel of Food, Fish and Fortune
A lot of displays just bang on about concepts and ideas and suggestions and recommendations and plans for the future and high level rubbish. I want actual examples of food sustainability not just an image of a child’s hand cradling a seedling because enough of the metaphors, let’s get down and dirty with the specifics. And Belgium delivered! I was totally captivated by the Wheel of Fortune being reinvented to grow plants spinning around a light generating axis, with the run off from the plants feeding the fish below in tanks.
Well played…United Kingdom!
With so many pavilions (I’m looking at you Azerbaijan) stacked to the yin yang with messages: “We do sustainable fishing! We have music played on string instruments! There’s some random coloured flowers that someone’s uncle donated and we’ve made a display out of”, the UK pavilion was an exercise in restraint. It was all about the bee and it was designed around the beehive. Yep, one little bee, one singular message ie. if the honey bee is under threat, then we’re all screwed. I walked away from so many of the pavilions, wondering , WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?!? But the singular, simple message of the honey bee proved that you don’t need to plaster ever surface with competing messages. You instead need to pick and stick with one message only. Great reminder when doing your next display.
Trends in displays: Digital’s where it’s at.
But with an important caveat: it needs to support the message or idea, not overwhelm it. There were soooo many pavilions relying heavily on the use of digital and interactive screens to convey messages or ideas but watching most people interact with them, it was a case of thumping the screen a few times, not paying attention to what came up and then moving onto the next to start the thumping all over again. There was so much great content on these interactives but that was the problem: too much content for short attention spans. Our brains are being rewired through social media, multitasking and interacting with a number of media devices simultaneously so the content that gets delivered needs to be punchy, relatable, succinct and entertaining. For me, one of the best used of interactive was in the supermarket of the future where you triggered a pop up screen above the food items your hand was hovering over, giving you stats on nutritional advice, source of origin and carbon footprint to bring it to market. Not only could you buy the products on display, but people were fascinated to learn more about their food choices and whether cheesecake is a complete meal. FYI: it is.
Overall take away from day one:
We’re doomed. DOOOOOOMMMMEEEDDDD!
Too many hungry people, arid lands, poor crop quality, unpredictable weather events due to global warming (except in Australia we’re totes fine, aren’t we Tony Abbott?) leading to floods, fire, pestilence that will impact food harvests and farming.
Basically, start stacking your tinned peaches on end and get a solid lock on survivalist websites. The future’s coming and it looks a whole lot like the dude below.
But I’m a bit of a hopeful Harry. I think we’re going to wrestle the food crisis to the ground and emerge in full cheesecake glory. And while that is happening, best I consume some Spanish white wine. There was an Esmeralda involved….either the name of the grape, the vineyard or my lovely hostess. My brain was fried from the heat, what can I tell you.
Till tomorrow! And while I was in the far queues (say out loud) today, I found myself humming this tune.