On the choice of what to take
The history museum of the Kyrgyz Republic in Bishek has a display
of official state gifts presented to the President of Kyrgyzstan.
These include a coat, a hat and a vase from the Tajiks, the
Uzbeks and the Kazakhs. The Kazakh display also features a model
of the spaceship "Buran" - a reference to Baikonur,
the famous space station in Kazakhstan.
At the World Exhibitions in the 19th century, the German Empire
was traditionally represented by a block of steel manufactured
by the company Krupp, and the block became bigger with each
successive exhibition. Later it became fashionable for countries
to be represented by a building, whose striking design displayed
their national idiosyncrasies. For the Expo 2000 in Hanover,
the Germans exhibited a Viking ship, the Gutenberg Bible and
the first Benz automobile. Buthan featured cloisters, Nicaragua
its people's talent for improvisation and their joie de vivre,
while Gabon, Ghana and Guyana focused on the beauty of their
countries' natural landscape.
In New York in 1939, the Westinghouse Group buried a time capsule.
This was to be opened in the year 6939 and was to represent
mankind in the year the capsule was buried.
It contains examples of consumer goods, material patterns and
metals, cement, plastic, asbestos, seeds, books, money, microfilms
and a microscope. On board the spaceship Pioneer 10 is a golden
plate, a message to alien forms of life engraved with drawings
of men and women in proportion to the size of the spaceship, together
with a drawing of a hydrogen molecule, and a map displaying the
position of the earth in the solar system and the position of
the sun in the universe. The project was expanded for Voyager
1 and the information for potential alien finders also includes
music and a friendly greeting in many different languages.
As well as the issue of what should be chosen to represent a
group of people, a nation or mankind itself, there is also the
question of who is given the responsibility for making this choice.
The German pavilion at the Venice Biennial for example, is designed
by the Foreign Office. Special Exhibition Commissioners are appointed
to handle the displays for the World Exhibitions, and they are
usually subordinate to the Economic Ministries. However, at the
world exhibition in Hanover, the Kings of Buthan and Jordan were
themselves the Exhibition Commissioners of their countries.