With love for Martha Jaramillo and Memo García Tirado
1851 is an important year in modern history, as it marks the beginning of the Universal Exhibitions. That year, in Britain, Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, organized the first World’s Fair with the aim of uniting nations and promoting economic growth and international trade. The event was created as a showcase to show the world the progress and modernization of the Victorian era, which was attended by over 6 million visitors.
Four years later, France decided to show its industrial and artistic strength. He organized his first Universal Exhibition in 1855, which took place on the Champs Elysées. Thence followed London in 1862; Paris, in 1867; and Vienna, in 1873. Three years later, the first major World’s Fair in the United States was organized, based in Philadelphia, the purpose of which was to commemorate the centenary of the country’s declaration of independence. It was the first time that Mexico had taken part in these events in a robust way, although there are already records since 1855.
Paris hosted its third Universal Exhibition in 1878, followed by Melbourne in 1880 and Barcelona in 1888. In 1889, the French capital hosted its fourth Universal Exhibition, organized to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution. The Eiffel Tower was specially built for the occasion.
Towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the Universal Exhibitions became the showcase of modernity. In 1923, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) was created in Paris to control the frequency and supervise the operation of the Universal Exhibitions.
Since its creation, the pavilions of each country have reflected the industrial, technological, artistic and architectural strength of each nation. They are, in short, an important platform for what we now call the concept of “country branding”. In each edition, these exhibitions have been visited by millions of people, because they allow an overview of global trends and an approach to the future, which is why they have significant economic and social effects in the countries or regions where they held each other.
In the 21st century, World Expos were held in Hannover, Germany in the year 2000; Aichi, Japan, in 2005; Shanghai, China, in 2010; Milan, Italy, in 2015; and the most recent in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2021, when it was originally scheduled for 2020 and postponed due to the health situation.
Dubai World Expo 2020 started on October 1, 2021 and officially ended on March 31, 2022. Over 22 million visitors from 192 countries attended the 182-day event.
Each edition of World Expos has a theme that unites the world, based on a great challenge facing humanity. This guiding axis is a platform on which countries can build, exchange ideas and best practices, find solutions and develop new forms of cooperation. The theme for 2020 was “Connecting our minds and building the future”, which had three sub-themes: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.
Mexico participated in a notable way in this edition in the sub-theme Mobility, with a pavilion entitled “Weaving Lives”, which was visited by more than 330,000 people. He sought, through his architectural concept and his curatorship, to represent the history, modernity and the proposal for the future of the country, on 900 square meters.
Among the milestones for Mexico at Expo Dubai 2020 was this past Wednesday, March 30, when the BIE recognized Mexico with first place in the “Interior Design” category.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the conceptualization of the interior of the Mexican pavilion has been entrusted to the visual artist Betsabeé Romero, who through his works has accompanied visitors on a journey through the traditions of our country. Likewise, the space presented works by the Mexican photographer Pepe Soho, Paola Pineda
and Irene Zundel, as well as unique pieces by artisans from the 32 states of the Mexican Republic.
Likewise, in the pavilion, our country held Mexico’s first international popular art exhibition in the United Arab Emirates, promoted 12 art exhibitions and 8 concerts, among other activities.
The next world expo will take place in Osaka, Japan, from April 13 to October 13, 2025. I am sure that, as tradition dictates, our country will play a leading role in the next edition, just as it has made in the United Arab Emirates. USA, Milan and Shanghai, to name a few.
BY ITZIAR GÓMEZ JIMENEZ
PLASMAR COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR