The archives of Fondazione Fiera Milano are a treasure trove of generic and authorial images, intimate and grandiose photos of sophisticated design projects, industrial machinery, foods, pistons, architecture, livestock, well-known personalities, and ordinary people.
But it also includes films, posters, drawings, maps, infographics, catalogs, guides and much more, documenting what was, to all intents and purposes, “a non-stop factory of wonders”, not merely a place to foster business relations.
This enormous and extremely diverse collection lends itself to infinite categorization and recombination, just as the ways by which an archive can be curated are infinite, especially now, as the archives undergo full digitization.
This exhibition is a journey through the Fondazione Archives, and it reflects on the notion of an archive itself as a tool to rediscover and contextualize the present.
The materials on exhibit bear witness to almost 100 years of Italian and international business history, and Fiera’s role as the prime stage for the country’s economic, political, social and cultural life, through times of great leap forward or more controversial phases.
The same materials are also an expression of the technologies and formats used to archive them, which in themselves measure the passage of time, just like the events they document. In these halls, visitors weave their way through a non-linear collage of stories, formats and experiences.
The viewer becomes the archivist, accessing and handling original materials, rapidly scrolling through decades of historic communication and photographic records – a selection of salient events, personal accounts and reconstructions in which Fiera served as an open door onto the rest of the world and anticipated the challenges of our times. Source and images Courtesy of OMA / Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli.