The World Exhibition has been around for over 150 years and been arranged in several important cities. Many would say that these cities are considered to be power centres of their contemporary, just look at the examples. In 1851, when it all began, it was held in London, the centre of the British Empire. In 1899, it was held in Paris. At that time, as well as earlier and later, one of the most influential cities of literature, art and philosophy. In the 1933 it was arranged in Chicago. Other cities include Brussels, New York, Barcelona and Lisbon. This years another nation has got the possibility and responsibility of hosting the Expo. Shanghai and China are the proud hosts of this years world attraction. Beckoning people from all over the world, and with massive commercials targeted on its own population China hopes to break two records this year: most visitors and largest expo area.
Yesterday, at least I, could recognise that this is the biggest fun fair/exhibition/trade arrangement I have ever been to, with some of the over 150 pavilions individually being bigger than my biggest so far experience. There would be wrong for both parts to compare the Norwegian educational fairs with the WORLD EXPO, but the latter’s size goes beyond imagination. During our stay at the expo we got ourselves a little passport to collect stamps from the different participants. We got trough 12 pavilions where we got stamps, and one stand which didn’t have a stamp at the moment of our visit. The countries were in general located geographically, but a fun observation we found on our Axis of Evil Expo Tour ™ was that Democratic Republic of Korea and Islamistic Republic of Iran both were located in their own corner. Both stands telling a story about their culture and identity more than better city, better life which is the main focus of The World Expo 2010. North-Korea claimed to be a paradise for people, and Iran a place where empathy, justice and fairness prevail. Iran did also have a model of an atomic power facility. Luckily both countries did also focus on some of their more human features, such as their deep roots in pre-revolutionary history and their people, who is often forgotten in the political power play. From the North-Korean pavilion I got two books, one explaining the historical events important for their existence and ideology, and one just explaining their ideology. I look forward to read these and to learn more about how a nation built on military powers and in the name of the workers and farmers can still exist after the Cold War, standing alone on the more and more globalized world arena. We also tried to find the Iraqi pavilion, but where it was meant to be we only found several bunkers for the local security staff.
During our first hours we did also visit Israel, where we were shown a short film about technology – mainly within micro-computing, water extraction and purification, but also within aerospace and medicine. After our visit to the middle east we went through Turkmenistan to Nepal. While many of the other countries were focusing on technology, pipelines, industry and existence Nepal choose to show some of their rich and beautiful culture. With a pavilion, not shaped as a spaceship or a pokémon as many other pavilions, rather as a Nepalese temple it gave a short brake, and time to perceive some of the detailed handmade artworks.
On our way back to Europe – as in the exhibition area, and not the continent – we went through the UN, who in an interesting way presented different statistics about countries and presented their work as the one organization working for you and at the same time being the most international organization, or to express it with the UN’s own words “One world. One UN”.
Going from Asia – excluded China, Chinese foreign territories and Japan – to the Europe section clearly shown how the economic resources in the world is divided. Not that many of the Asian pavilions were not impressive, it is just that the European ones were bigger, had more installation and a more expensive touch. Not that this is a success criterion, it just points out who that spends most money. In “Europe” we first got some frites from the Belgian pavilion, then we went to the Norwegian – powered by nature – which was made in wood and shown films that looked like a manifestation of the visitnorway.com graphical guidelines. I liked it. The most amazing European pavilion, I would say is the Dutch, reminding me of old city fantasies from my childhood with an elevated street going trough a “tree-house-town”.
One day at the Expo is clearly not enough, but if you want to see it all and catch all the stamps, you should get going. The expo is just opened until the end of October and you will need a week or more if you want to get through it all, and remember the queues are insane and in order to get to some of the pavilions you need to make a reservation to get in.
Here are some pictures I took at the Expo. The illustrating picture is not from the expo but from one of the many installations around in Shanghai containing the mascot and the logo of the World Expo. Enjoy.