Dubai: British artist Es Devlin will design the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, following her work on the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Devlin’s award-winning work has also seen her being associated with the likes of Beyonce, Kanye West — designing these artists’ performance stages — and Louis Vuitton.
The pavilion is set to highlight the UK’s expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and the space sector. “My practice has developed quite dramatically over the years,” Devlin, told Gulf News in a phone interview. “Already, this evolution to interactive from performative has been happening. There’s been a breadth to my practice.”
The UK pavilion at Expo 2020 will be produced by the brand experience agency Avantgarde. The Department for International Trade will lead the UK government’s presence with cross-government support.
Devlin — known for creating large-scale sculptures that fuse technology and poetry — said she feels a sense of “gravitas and responsibility with 25 million people” expected to visit Expo 2020. “This is an ambitious global collective endeavour. I’ve realised over the last five months, and meeting with the event’s organisers, that this is a unique opportunity,” Devlin said.
Collective global project
The message behind Expo 2020, of connecting minds and creating the future, might be “the most important message” in the world at the moment, she added. For the UK pavilion, Devlin has said she will base her design on an illuminated sculptural message to which each of the event’s visitors will be invited to contribute.
Explaining her inspiration for the project and what she hopes it will achieve, Devlin said: “The idea draws directly on one of Stephen Hawking’s final projects, ‘Breakthrough Message’, a global competition that Hawking and his colleagues conceived in 2015, inviting people to consider what message we would communicate to express ourselves as a planet, should we one day encounter other advanced civilisations in space.
“What if the UK pavilion at Expo 2020 became a place where visitors from all over the world chose to take part in a collective global project that showcases British expertise in AI technologies and poetry while transcending national identities?”
Devlin and Avantgarde will join forces with Manchester-based structural engineers Atelier One and sustainability experts Atelier Ten.
The UK’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said in a statement: “Over six months, my international economic department will help connect with millions of Expo 2020 visitors who will make up the expected 25 million visits — that’s millions of buyers for our products, partners for our firms, tourists for our cities and students for our universities.”
World Expos offer the UK an opportunity to strengthen the country’s soft power and enhancing the UK’s reputation on a global stage, while attracting investment and growing trade, a spokesperson from the British consulate in Dubai said in a statement.
Najeeb Mohammed Al Ali, executive director for the Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau said: “The UK pavilion will be an intriguing platform for people to learn, have fun and work together to discover innovations and explore new frontiers in areas including space and artificial intelligence.”