Ravenna 3.2



Spring 2010

From Hyde Park to the Planetary Garden: Rhetorics of Development at the London 1851 and Milan 2015 World Exhibitions

Maria Cristina Paganoni

This article intends to suggest a comparative reading between the first world fair – the 1851 Great Exhibition – and the Milano Expo 2015, trying to retrace similarities as well as discontinuities in the repetition of the cultural practice of universal exhibitions, with the purpose of interrogating the present through the prism of the past. The purpose of such a cultural analysis is to map the complex interweaving of social expectations and mythologies in the act of their formation, paying special attention to the different rhetorics of development that characterise the staging of the Victorian and the Italian world fairs.

Separated by a time interval of over one and a half centuries, these two European events appear to be placed at the extremes of an ideal trajectory that leads from the full-fledged first Industrial Revolution to the modes of production and consumption of the so-called Information Age. It is an age which the economist Jeremy Rifkin has defined as the Third Industrial Revolution, where fossil fuels will be replaced with renewable forms of green energy. Though the sense of history immediately forbids any easy comparison between the two world fairs because of such a lengthy time gap and the different caliber of their host cities, the long sequence of exhibitions that stemmed from that first Victorian celebration would seem to allow for the adoption of a longue durée perspective, envisaging London 1851 and Milan 2015 as interconnected. Indeed, should we try to pin down a constant in this breezing overview, this would rather be in the mutual acts of designing an exhibition site and displaying commodities, thus redefining cultures of consumption.

It is nonetheless undeniable that the narratives of the two world fairs under analysis differ a great deal, not only in their temporal context but especially in the different gaze that this experiment in cultural analysis is required to cast, at respectively “reconstructed pasts and imagined futures”.[i] While we learn about the Great Exhibition through the testimony of historical sources and thanks to a recently renewed scholarly interest in the first world fair,[ii] the Milano Expo 2015 still lies a few years ahead and finds itself at a relatively incipient stage, which makes the comparison between the two events even more unbalanced. Despite this inevitably skewed perspective, as their material traces have either largely disappeared or are yet to be created, both universal exhibitions can be simultaneously present to our speculations under the guise of discursive formations and it is as such that they will be discussed here. What kind of social capital is celebrated on the occasion of world fairs and what does their visual and material display reveal of cultures of consumption as expressions of historically changing relationships between human beings and technology? Any effort to explain their special significance as a coherent and univocal process is doomed from the start. Like museums and art collections, exhibitions have been shown to be potent mechanisms in the construction and visualisation of power relations and to become, for these reasons, complex cultural battlefields, “multidimensional sites of encounter and a clash of interests and agencies”, in which veritable “tournaments of value”[iii] are enacted.

The unstable negotiation of past and present meanings is further legitimated by the fact that the Great Exhibition is considered the archetype of all the trade and industry fairs that followed. Why then should we not infer that the Victorian world gave birth to social and economic attitudes (from the official celebration of technological innovation to the drive for aggressive industrial growth) that seem to have survived to this day, or at least that some discourses that resonated then with special intensity – for example the discourses of “progress” and “Empire” – still affect the present, though under the new tags of “development” and “globalisation”? Indeed, if there is a common element between the London and Milan events, it possibly lies in the global outreach of universal exhibitions. Despite its patronising attitude and imperial location right in the heart of London, historians agree on saying that the Great Exhibition represented a major globalising effort, ideally embracing all nations. As for the Milan Expo, its theme reads “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, making an encompassing commitment towards global sustainable development.

The “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations” opened in Hyde Park, in the heart of London, in May 1851. The world’s first international festival, it was held in the phantasmagoric venue of the Crystal Palace,[iv] built “‘for the promotion of universal happiness and brotherhood’ to summon all nations ‘to the peaceful field of a noble competition’”.[v] Visited by six million people, it closed six months later. Just a few years after the “Hungry Forties” and the 1848 European revolutions, the exhibition marked the heyday of the Victorian age, inaugurating a powerful narrative of progress through the celebratory exposition of artefacts collected in the glass and iron cocoon of the exhibition pavilion, designed by the horticulturist and landscape architect Joseph Paxton. Despite the criticisms it received – Augustus Welby Pugin called it a “glass-monster”, Thomas Carlyle a “big glass soap bubble”, and John Ruskin a “conservatory” – what the Crystal Palace represented and performed was experienced, for better or for worse, as an unsettling format that established new forms of visual mediation, marking a decisive break with the past and a dramatic entry into the modern age. “The Crystal Palace was a monument to consumption, the first of its kind, a place in which the combined mythologies of consumerism appeared in concentrated form”. [vi]

image001  Fig. 1. The Crystal Palace

As Nicholas Mirzoeff reminds us, “the visual disrupts and challenges any attempt to define culture in purely linguistic terms”.[vii] The visitors to the Crystal Palace – this glittering as well as problematic symbol of the modern and, by reason of its unsolved tensions, an apt example of what Walter Benjamin would call a dialectical image – enjoyed a multi-sensorial performance where the sense of sight was uppermost. “The envisioning of the material and social worlds at the exhibitions made public and visible much that was generally private and invisible”.[viii] Inaugurating the promotional strategies of modern capitalism, visual offerings attracted people’s gaze by giving their desire a physical form disguised as marketable goods. [ix]

The rhetoric surrounding the event, as well as the visual techniques employed to display merchandise, all contributed to defining self-congratulatory rituals that aimed to promote London, Britain and the British Empire, publicise modern forms of production and establish new consumption patterns of material and symbolic goods, shaping both nineteenth-century representations of the commodity as well as much of modern consumerism. For the first time, “imperial discourses, a new concern for national aggregation, and the new techniques and taste for visuality, mass consumption and mass travel were showcased and experienced to such magnitude”.[x] Within the glass pavilion the “heterogeneous masses”[xi] had the chance to travel in time and space, crossing a carefully designed taxonomic organisation, whose hierarchy reflected the imperial outlook, for example in the way “in which Exhibition commentary represented non-European people”, justifying “exploitative trading relationships” and “the violence which accompanied them”,[xii] but also in the marginalisation of Chinese artefacts. Visitors were likewise disciplined, with the working classes visiting the Exhibition taking advantage of shilling days, i.e. days in which the price of the ticket was lowered to a shilling, even though, somewhat paradoxically, those same labourers whose works were displayed in the Crystal Palace were largely underrepresented, “at both the exhibiting and visiting end of the Great Exhibition”.[xiii]

Exhibition commissioners entertained, educated and policed an unprecedented galaxy of visitors from seemingly all corners of the globe and social classes. […] They did so by organizing the visitors into social taxonomies and painting collective portraits of those “who came from all parts of the world”. […] Divisions by area, type of labor, art and technology not only domesticated an apparently undifferentiated mass, but also suggested a momentary social integration. The Great Exhibition’s classification schemes naturalized differences and similarities among peoples, as well as products, collapsing some distinctions and creating new ones.[xiv]

Quite evidently, such ambiguities preclude a reading of the Great Exhibition as an ideologically coherent narrative. According to Jeffrey Auerbach, “the Great Exhibition of 1851 possesses a protean nature rather that a set of self-evident meanings and for this same reason it has become one of the most misinterpreted events in modern British history”.[xv] Though the event worked as a macroscopic sounding box for mainstream mid-Victorian doctrines of class, gender, Empire and race, propaganda remained problematic. The world fair was often promoted and advertised contradictorily across the country, according to the interests of the multiple stakeholders involved and placing emphasis in turn on manufacturing greatness, tourism, commerce, the sale of raw material, unfair excise regulations and free trade, or its opposite, so much so that it is hard “to fit the Great Exhibition into a governing paradigm, or analytic framework”.[xvi] Its celebration in the official press and documents was contested by unofficial sources, unpublished records, the provincial press and popular penny publications that told a very different story of reluctant manufacturers, economic deficiencies, deep social divisions, strident nationalism and even racism.[xvii]

It may be useful to remark at this point that even such an eminent Victorian as Charles Dickens found the Great Exhibition unsettling and disturbing. Given the remarkable visual quality of his writing and the multiplicity of sights and objects it contains, Dickens’s discomfort when faced with the visual power of the display appears all the more surprising. What his conflicting feelings would seem to indicate in the first place is that the exhibition was experienced as something whose visual taxonomy (or lack thereof) could not be easily described and comfortably brought back to middle-class taste and culture.

I find I am ‘used-up’ by the Exhibition. I don’t say there is nothing in it – there’s too much. I have been only twice; so many things bewildered me. I have a natural horror of sights, and the fusion of the many sights in one has not decreased it. I am not sure that I have seen anything but the fountain and perhaps the Amazon. It is a dreadful thing to be obliged to be false, but when anyone says, “Have you seen– ?” I say, “Yes,” because if I don’t, I know he’ll explain it, and I can’t bear that![xviii]

On the other hand, Household Words, the weekly magazine Dickens was editing at the time, adopted a stance that significantly differed from the writer’s private reservations. Since an event of such impact could not be ignored, from its conception to its conclusion the Great Exhibition “provoked some dozen articles in Household Words, half of which appeared before the actual opening of the Crystal Palace”.[xix] The magazine used the Exhibition to formulate a sense of collective identity and celebrate Britain’s excellence. Though not all the pieces on the Exhibition were homogeneous, Household Words “mostly adopted the tone of achievement and self-congratulation – both in terms of national superiority and ambiguous class relations – that pervaded the British press at large”.[xx] In general, despite the celebration of industry and labour across national and social boundaries, “its emergent English voice excluded the majority of Victorian society, notably women and labouring classes”.[xxi]

Such an Anglocentric perspective informs Dickens’s condescension and sarcasm, when not outright disdain, towards China. “The Great Exhibition and the Little One”, an article he jointly wrote with Richard Horne, the magazine subeditor, is among the most jingoistic pieces that appeared in Household Words, characteristically mixing internationalism and xenophobia.

As it is impossible in any allowable space to “go through” the whole Exhibition, or touch upon a tithe of its Catalogue, let us suggest as curious subjects of comparison, those two countries which display (on the whole) the greatest degree of progress, and the least – say England and China. England, maintaining commercial intercourse with the whole world; China, shutting itself up, as far as possible, within itself.[xxii]

The article compares what the authors decide to be the most advanced and the most backward exhibits – those from Great Britain and those from China – and does so in eminently visual terms. In her study on Victorian representation of China, Elizabeth Chang remarks that Dickens resists the alternative forms of visuality that are offered by Chinese artefacts and their use in the production of mass consumption goods, for example the successful willow pattern that was impressed on Wedgewood plates thanks to the techniques of transfer printing. Dickens’s “rhetoric of textual resistance” may be indicative of some of the challenges posed to national print culture by a transnational nineteenth-century visual aesthetic.[xxiii] This resistance to the backward East reaches its climax in the celebration of the printing machinery of the West, an “extraordinary piece of mechanism”.[xxiv]

The Milan Expo, yet to take place, will be dedicated to the relationship between food, health and sustainability. As a discursive formation, the event is similarly framed within a rhetoric of universal amelioration, though this time “progress” has been replaced with the notion of “sustainable development”, which sounds more consonant with the socio-economic and environmental expectations of our disenchanted post-growth society.[xxv] “Water and Sustainable Development” at Zaragoza 2008, “Better City, Better Life” at Shanghai 2010, “The Living Ocean and the Coast” at Yeosu 2012: all world fairs prior to 2015 would seem to fit into an ideal paradigm leading to Milan and the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. As the phrasing suggests, unlike the Great Exhibition, the focus is now placed on process (“feeding”) rather than the final product (“food”).

“Addressing food-related issues ranging from consumer protection to aid for the developing world”,[xxvi] the 2015 universal exhibition aims at the twin goals of food safety and food security, sounding at the same time compelling and high-reaching.[xxvii] Thanks to its lofty humanitarian rhetoric, the Milan event has been endorsed by notable testimonials, for example the well-known environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore. And true to its commitment, the Expo 2015 has chosen to uphold the Millennium Development Goals, undersigned with the Millennium Declaration by the UN General Assembly on 8 September 2000, and has joined the UN End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign, aiming to eradicate hunger and malnutrition and reduce extreme poverty worldwide by 2015. In the meantime, several protocols of cooperation with developing countries have been established.

From the very start the urgency of global sustainability is announced by the Expo 2015 logo itself, which aligns Leonardo’s Vitruvian man, inscribed within a circumference, with the image of the earth, their similar shapes and colours suggesting the possible onset of a new Renaissance. In other words, by means of visual analogy, a renewed relationship between man and the world is anticipated.

image002Fig. 2. The 2015 Expo logo.

The theme has also been convincingly translated into the guidelines of the project of the exhibition site, designed by a team of five renowned architects and presented to the City Mayor and the public on September 8, 2009.[xxviii] The selected location is the suburban area of Rho-Pero on the north-east boundary of the old Trade Fair, a characteristic waste land of contemporary urban geography on the outskirts of the metropolis which should undergo major regeneration thanks to the Expo. The Concept Masterplan overturns projects of triumphal monumentality that defined exhibitions of the industrial era[xxix] and attempts to convert the notion of sustainability into a fitting architectural design, characterised by natural beauty and lightness. Discarding “the outmoded idea of an exposition built around complex systems of representation and gigantic architectural monuments which often have no real purpose after the event”, the post-industrial Expo 2015 is now imagined as a wide “Planetary Botanical Garden open to the citizens of Milan and the world […] that will feed Milan literally, spiritually and intellectually”.[xxx]


Fig. 3. A bird’s eye view of the exhibition site from the Concept Masterplan.

We did away with the idea of national pavilions designed to host products and documentation geared towards celebrating the splendours of any given country, its politics and its businesses. We did away with the typical ‘muscular architecture’ of fairs where stands compete with each other to attract the attention of visitors who have been bored to death by continuous offers and messages.[xxxi]

Erected on a segmented land grid crossed by two perpendicular axes, like the Cardo and the Decumanus of Romans settings, national pavilions will now be replaced with identical, removable lightweight tents and garden plots, interspersed with waterways reminiscent of the Navigli canals. The spatial organisation of the area is shaped after its intended function as a display of agricultural food chains and best practices. Reacting to citizens’ demands for a low-impact exhibition site, the Concept Masterplan appears almost subdued, undoubtedly in line with an event still struggling to get sufficient funds and taking place at a difficult moment for Italy. It adopts a minimal visual regime that manages to evoke an imaginary but persuasive politico-emotive geography, an egalitarian, utopian, anthropised space of the near future that will hopefully regenerate Milan’s periphery.

The future gaze becomes a mediator between the rationality of the planning processes and their phantasmagoric impetus […], the tension between old and new and between fact and fantasy […] creating a feeling that this space is the future – the future natural. [xxxii]

When we move from the visual level to linguistic encoding, we can retrace in the official media output similar rhetorical strategies of utopian projection into the future. The journey metaphor is one of them. “We began the journey that will bring us to 2015, and far over”,[xxxiii] announced Mayor Letizia Moratti to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the international body located in Paris which rules the assignment of world fairs to competing cities, in December 2008. “Expo 2015 won’t be a Trade Fair, but a journey of innovation, both organizational and technological, it will be a cultural project, a scientific project”,[xxxiv] insists the authoritative voice of the Expo management in its external communication. The whole enterprise is constructed as “a journey of innovation”,[xxxv] which will manage to establish a fruitful connection between the present and the future. The promotional texts of the media campaign generally adopt the pedagogic and universalist rhetoric of world fairs, constantly shifting from “regimes of truth” to “regimes of hope” and relying on a set of representations that imply “a key strategic shift away from a debate premised on an authoritative, factual, and evidential discourse, toward the language and authentic symbolism of hopeful, future-oriented values”.[xxxvi] This is especially evident in the lengthy Bid Dossier,[xxxvii] submitted to the BIE by the city administration to promote Milan’s candidacy.

The principal scope of a World Exposition is the education of the public: it may exhibit the means at man’s disposal for meeting the needs of civilisation, or demonstrate the progress achieved in one or more branches of human endeavour, or show prospects for the future.[xxxviii]

Like the Great Exhibition, the Milan event possesses a divided soul. The ideals of universal education, environmental management, sustainability and international cooperation appear somewhat contradictorily intertwined with the rhetoric of economic globalisation and more business-oriented strategies of marketing and competitive urban rebranding, promoted in the first place by Mayor Moratti, “Milan’s Iron Lady”.[xxxix]

Since taking over the running of Milan, she has been determined to re-establish the city’s international resonance and role. Her idea is to turn the 2015 world trade expo into both a showcase for the city and, indeed, the country as a whole, as well as a stimulus for a massive investment programme to improve local infrastructures and make Milan a model of eco-friendly urban living.[xl]

With an expected flow of twenty-nine million visitors in six months (an increasing quota of whom from Asian countries and especially China), it seems reasonable to suspect a major marketing operation behind the entire enterprise, aiming to finance new construction works under the pretext of urban regeneration interventions. Milan’s rebranding as a World City, placed at the strategic crossroads of the local and the global, should hopefully redress the recent image of the Lombardy capital as “Europe’s Cinderella”,[xli] spoilt by heavy traffic, poor infrastructures, pollution and falling standards of living, despite its recent inclusion among the Alpha World Cities by the GaWC (Globalization and World Cities Research Network) even in the most recent rankings.

All world’s cities, even those that are best placed in terms of economic development, quality of life and international influence, are continually evolving to consolidate their position on the global stage and guarantee their citizens a better life and better services .

Milan, with its culture, entrepreneurial vigour and public spirit, is no exception. The city is always growing, and it has reinvented itself many times in historic moments of radical socio-economic change.

It was this philosophy, for example, that led the city’s transformation from being a symbol of Italian manufacturing to become a global financial centre, and a benchmark for design, the arts, fashion and cutting edge services.

Expo Milano 2015 is a unique and unrepeatable occasion for urban development and transformation.[xlii] (original emphasis)

Despite the emphasis on human amelioration and sustainable development, the Expo 2015 communication campaign appears to have placed its focus so far mainly on the commercial side of the event, espousing a top-down managerial approach that seems to hold back citizen participation in the planning of “‘softer’ social and economic regeneration”[xliii] policies. No wonder, then, that the Expo has often turned into a communicative killing field, with the national and international press quite pitiless in reporting a very different story of economic deficiencies, messy squabbles, deep social and political divisions, speculative ambitions and disregard for public opinion, when it comes to the central notion of sustainability which should be central to the Expo theme.

What the deep discrepancies between promotional fictions and hard facts point out are the several contradictions in the twists and turns of the complex Expo planning, especially in the perceived conflict between corporate sponsorship and investments and public interest and money.[xliv] While from the start the Professional Association of Architects (Ordine degli Architetti) has showed concern for the environmental impact of further development in an already compromised suburban area of the excessively built-up Lombardy region, others voice the fear that the Expo would be a way of laundering the (Russian and Italian) Mafia’s money by means of under-the-table investments in construction works.[xlv] And looking at the waste of money of a similar event, Zaragoza 2008, and aware of the global financial downturn severely hitting Italy, many still wonder: “will the Expo ever be able to repay the Expo?”.

While London in 1851 was the heart of Empire, Milan has instead suffered from a negative image perception and the general decline of Italy in recent years. With an eye to the potentialities of Chinese trade and tourism, it awaits the Expo as an occasion to refashion its compromised identity, relying on the contribution of the creative industries and cultural initiatives to market its assets. Besides, given the significant role played by cuisine cultures in city branding, it should not be forgotten that the Expo theme lends itself to several marketable solutions, from food tourism tips to the ad hoc staging of gastronomic events.

It would be tempting to conclude that the Expo 2015 preparation would seem to provide further evidence of the colonising of the public sphere by the logic of corporate ideology and the concomitant de-politicisation of citizens, who have so far been informed about the event mainly through the official lens of an often pretentious philanthropic, pedagogic and universalist attitude. Like other examples of event-themed regeneration – the Millennium Dome or the European Capital of Culture scheme, to name but a few – the Expo’s unfocussed appropriation of the notion of sustainability would seem to provide a further instance of McGuigan’s “cool capitalism”, in other words “the incorporation of disaffection into the capitalist way of life, the effect of which is to neutralize criticism”.[xlvi]

However, as five years lie ahead of the actual staging of the Milan universal exhibition, the picture is still fluid and open to improvement. We know too well that a return to a pre-industrial rural order cannot be a credible mythology on a planet where the majority of the population lives in cities. Still, if we recognise that “the Victorians invented the modern consumer as a desiring agent and abstract category”,[xlvii] why should we not hope with Jeremy Rifkin that the 2015 Expo may truly represent a “wonderful cultural journey”,[xlviii] a meaningful step towards a more sustainable lifestyle and more responsible consumerism?

  • Maria Cristina Paganoni, PhD, is a researcher in English at Università degli Studi di Milano. Her research interests range from Victorian and neo-Victorian studies to postmodern forms of textuality.. She is the author of The Magic Lantern: Representation of the Double in Dickens (Routledge, 2008), Lettere dal Sudafrica: La saggistica di Nadine Gordimer (FrancoAngeli, 1997), and essays on Charles Dickens, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Gautam Malkani, Arundhati Roy and Zadie Smith. Her current primary research focus is on media communication in a globalised world, digital literacies and the politics of representation. At present she is working on a publication on web-based city branding.

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[i] Tilley, 8.

[ii] Davis attributes the heightened scholarly attention towards the Crystal Palace in the Third Millennium to a number of factors, including the Crystal Palace’s “150th anniversary, the construction of the Millennium Dome in London, and the centenary of Victoria’s death” (234).

[iii] Andermann, 335, 334, borrows the concept of “tournaments of value” from Appadurai’s theorisation in The Social Life of Things (1986) and his effort “to capture the ritual and spectacular aspects of the social production of value” (334) through the organisation of major events such as world fairs.

[iv] For the structure of the Crystal Palace, Paxton drew from his precedent experience in building a gigantic greenhouse for his patron, the Duke of Devonshire, and made pioneering use of cast-iron structure, pre-fabricated units and the glass curtain wall. After the exhibition closed, an enlarged version of the building was relocated in Sydenham, South London, continuing in active use until its destruction by fire on November 30, 1936. Winston Churchill commented: “This is the end of an age” (Auerbach, 2001, 94).

[v] Ibid., 94.

[vi] Richards, 3.

[vii] Mirzoeff, 7.

[viii] Hoffenberg, 18.

[ix] As regards this point, see also Paganoni (2008), 115: “According to Walter Benjamin, for whom fashion is a way to turn the world into a commodity, international exhibitions are celebrations of fashionable goods, coming from all places of the world and assembled in an unreal place, such as the exhibition pavilion. Like the Parisian passages, the pavilion was an estranging place, re-creating indoors an outdoor environment, as happens today in shopping malls, with paths, fountains and flowerbeds. In other words, the Victorian and, more generally, the nineteenth-century dream factory worked by turning the vastness of the world into a protective cocoon where commodities were put on display”.

[x] Message and Johnston, 29.

[xi] Clemm, 208. The phrase is taken from an article by Richard Horne entitled “The Wonders of 1851”, which appeared in Dickens’s Household Words (1, 17, 388-392, 20 July 1850) before the opening of the Great Exhibition.

[xii] Young, 6.

[xiii] Clemm, 212.

[xiv] Hoffenberg, 203-204.

[xv] Auerbach (2001), 97.

[xvi] Ibid., 98.

[xvii] Ibid., 99.

[xviii] Butt and Tillotson, 181, quoting Dickens’s letter to Mrs Watson (11 July 1852). The Amazon from the Zollverein, the Union of German States, was a massive zinc sculpture by August Karl Eduard Kiss.

[xix] Clemm, 209.

[xx] Ibid., 215.

[xxi] Ibid., 224.

[xxii] Horne and Dickens, 357.

[xxiii] Chang argues that “for nineteenth-century Britons, China evoked not only a far-distant geography and rival trade empire but also a way of seeing and being seen very different from their own. For many Britons, this difference was simple: the Celestial Empire’s walled gardens, forbidden cities, and designs composed without linear perspective linked directly to a corresponding Chinese stagnancy, despotism, and repressed consciousness, while the cultural productions of the British empire – many of which were proudly displayed in the Great Exhibition – were held to reflect the progressive, dynamic far-sightedness befitting a global power”.

[xxiv] Horne and Dickens, 358.

[xxv] In his latest book – La società post-crescita (2010) – the sociologist of consumption Giampaolo Fabris claims that adding the term ‘sustainable’ to ‘development’ is not credible enough to restore the role and legitimacy of economic growth, whose negative consequences in terms of environmental damages and social injustice but also of lack of individual fulfillment and psychological wellbeing all contribute to spreading the so-called postmodern malaise.

[xxvi] The Economist, 30.10.2006.

[xxvii] The main theme of the Expo is inflected in seven sub-themes which are: 1. Science for food safety, security and quality; 2. Innovation in the agro food supply chain; 3. Technology for agriculture and biodiversity; 4. Dietary education; 5. Solidarity and co-operation on food; 6. Food for better life styles; 7. Food in the world’s cultures and ethnic groups.

[xxviii] The international team coordinated by Stefano Boeri includes the famous architect Jacques Herzog, designer of the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, Richard Burdett, professor at the London School of Economics, Joan Busquets, one of the urban designers that contributed to the rebirth of the city of Barcelona, and William McDonough, American architect and guru of sustainable design.

[xxix] See also Dell’Osso for a diachronic survey of the transformative role and legacy of architecture in urban policies promoted by exhibitions and of changing relationships between the local and the global dimensions, as they become inscribed in the public space of the city on special occasions such as world fairs.

[xxx] Herzog et al., 54.

[xxxi] Boeri, 80-81.

[xxxii] Janssons and Lagerkvist, 47-48.

[xxxiii] Moratti, 2008.

[xxxiv] “Expo 2015 at Tokyo”, press release issued by Expo 2015 S.p.A. (17.9.2009).

[xxxv] Ibid.

[xxxvi] Brown, 332.

[xxxvii] Written in English, the Bid Dossier is made up of twenty-one chapters and an Executive Summary.

[xxxviii] Bid Dossier, ch. 2.

[xxxix] Betts, The Financial Times, 5.3.2008.

[xl] Ibid.

[xli] Backus, The Financial Times, 25.4.2009.

[xlii] Bid Dossier, ch. 2.

[xliii] Smith and Fox, 1125.

[xliv] See Paganoni (2009).

[xlv] These headlines partially summarise the tenor of the international coverage of the Expo 2015: “Milan la moderne a le blues” (Le Monde, 9.6.2009); “Crime around the catwalk. A murderous mob from Italy’s south is flooding north, dominating the drug trade and eyeing up rich public pickings” (The Sunday Telegraph, 5.7.2009); “Expo au rabais” (Le Point, 13.8.2009).

[xlvi] McGuigan, 7.

[xlvii] Gurney, 396.

[xlviii] “Expo 2015 at Tokyo” (17.9.2009).


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