Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Battle of Who Could Care Less (Expo 3)

In the last installment on Shanghai Expo 2010, I complained about the boring similarity of the some of the country pavilions. Their designs--intended to look sleek and futuristic--instead brought back memories of the past. Bland memories at that. But at least those countries put forth an effort.

Today's post will focus on those countries that appeared to have put little thought or energy into their pavilions. Lest you dismiss my criticism as that of a jingoistic, uber-patriotic, neocon cowboy let me start by banging on the good ol' US of A.

From what I understand, every country picked up the tab for the design, building, and staffing of their pavilions. Except one. In a show of truly commendable (and all too rare) fiscal responsibility, the United States government refused to pay for a pavilion at the Expo. I'm still a bit shocked by that news, especially since the government seems more than willing to toss money around at anything and everything these days. So instead of US taxpayers having to foot the bill, a group of American business interests raised the money required. Great story, right?

Well, it would be were it not for the fact that it appears that these same business interests were also instrumental in the design of the United States pavilion, which looks an awful lot like one of the thousands of big box retail stores scattered across our fruited plains:

The USA: for all you paper and office accessory needs. Even the font has a corporate feel to it:

(Note the famous chicken vendor logo in the upper right corner)

I have to admit that as an American my heart didn't exactly swell with pride when I caught sight of the pavilion that was supposed to represent my country. Were I a snide leftist, I might snark that this corporate look does represent the true Amerika of greedy consumerism. Instead, I'll stand by her and guide her to try to do better next time around.

Next up is Slovakia:

Bozek: So, what's our plan?

Jaromil: We put up cement wall and draw a few circles.

Bozek: That's it?

Jaromil: Ano, if anyone asks we say it "minimalist."

Sticking to Central Europe we next visit Hungary:

Just tack some two x fours up on the outside of the buildings. No, it doesn't matter if they're straight or not. Supposedly, this is all intentional as the dangling wood blowing in the breeze is said to replicate the sound of a traditional Hungarian musical instrument. Whatever.

It's hard to appreciate just how little effort Iceland put into the Expo by this picture alone:

This graphic (which will also appear on the next Bjork album cover) appears on material that is nothing more what you find on billboards, wrapped around a square building. When you got close enough, you could see it billowing in the wind.

But hey now, Iceland is broke. How could they be expected to be able to afford anything more?

Well, being broke didn't stop Greece from coming up with this decent design:

I did notice German visitors were eyeing the Greek pavilion with distaste. Ve paid how much for dat? There was also a guy out front dressed like Zeus ringing a bell with a Salvation Army type pail.

Tomorrow: it gets better. Sort of.