The very intelligible exhibition ‘Alimentario’ at the Museu da Cidade in São Paulo shows how the universe of foods and the culinary has contributed to shape the face of Brazil today. The exhibition can only be seen till the end of this week, but we discuss it here anyhow, because it helped us to understand the deep relationship of the Brazilians with their food and the huge cultural value that it carries for them.
In the OCA pavilion, an amazing UFO-shaped building that was designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1951, Alimentario is not a boring, linear history lesson. Yes there are historical documents, documentary videos and old paintings, but also photographs, contemporary art and visuals of stunning dishes by chefs like Alex Atala (Yes! He is coming to What Design Can Do in May!).
There are simple and clear displays of information, learning us, for example, that coffee originally comes from Ethiopia and how much coffee is produced and exported nowadays from Brazil. The sculptures of Caetano Dias, a series of slave heads made from cane sugar, are as beautiful as they are moving and sad.
All together Alimentario lets your mind wander through the influence of colonization, territorial expansion, immigration, the indigenous people, slavery, the exuberance of Brazilian nature en how all of that influenced what Brazilians like to eat today. And all this in a very poetic way. In Alimentario food is art, communicating the wide cultural meaning of food as only art can do.
Top image: polyhedron of fruits by Pedro Paiva and Joao Maria Gusmao