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Intro

Preface

Giuliano Pisapia
Mayor of Milan

Being engaged in the right research is not always sufficient to ensure a broad level of knowledge, which allows everyone – citizens and businesses, political and social players, observers, supporters and critics – to raise the quality of the debate on the most important issue for both them and us: the community.
Restoring this knowledge to the community and to all the countless people involved is essential, because the community is both tangible and intangible, with its own values and interests, people and stories, structures and symbols.
With the Expo almost upon us, and with a great urban transformation under way, we made ourselves two promises when launching the new debate on the identity and reputation of the City of Milan, in the various forms mentioned below: to encourage participation. And to listen. We are half-way there.
Because to a great extent our study shows that public opinion has been listened to, both inside and outside the city. And because having everything online, available to anyone who is interested, is one way of getting the debate moving. A debate that will take place in a less impersonal, less “scientific” manner, entrusted more to creativity and entertainment, creating the right conditions for bringing together, assessing, expanding and also differentiating people’s opinions.
Now an exhibition with associated cultural events is being launched in the city and at La Triennale, with a view to questioning the population about these identifying features. Answering questions about the identity and talent that time has forged and transformed, is inevitably the task of all those with a sense of responsibility for a community.
But it is also a subject that inspires those who feel that the city is theirs and who would like it to be part of a collective dream of improvement, progress and well-being.
The dream that Milan has interpreted throughout its history, with a firm intention to make it come true. Even in the face of countless crises and hardships.
What is certain is that, for the city, this issue is by no means one of self-congratulation. On the contrary, it is one of reorganisation and appeal. For those who live and experience it. For those who want to get to know it. For those who wish to accept the invitation to share a fragment of its life and of its future.
On behalf of the Administration, I would like to thank La Triennale di Milano for having shouldered the responsibility of organising this project; the Brand Milan Committee for having planned and assisted it with such passion; the professionals, designers, technical experts and researchers who are creating it; the social, economic and cultural partners in the city for discussing it; and the people of Milan for making their opinions felt and not just acting as spectators.

Identity of Milan

Michele De Lucchi
Art director and display design

Milan is a city that never ceases to change its skin and this constant transformation attracts new people, new activities, new ideas, and new ways of experiencing and enjoying its dynamism. The Identity of Milan exhibition examines way the image of the city is collectively perceived. It does so through in-depth research, gathering together its iconography and most persistent symbols.
The exhibition intends to encourage people to ask: “What is Milan?”, “What does it know about itself?”, “What should it know”, “Who is it?”, “What does it want?”, “What makes
it different?”, “What does it offer?”, and much more besides. Questions that, in our frenetic everyday lives, we forget to ask ourselves and others, thus neglecting many of the opportunities that life in the city has to offer us. Without claiming to give comprehensive, conclusive answers, it simply intends to bring about a need for awareness and to convey a sense of belonging to a place and to a society that inevitably affects our own lives, our culture, and our character.
Many opportunities for development and growth remain hidden and unused due to an inability to recognise the skills and values of a social structure that combines the expertise and opinions of very diverse origins and nature, which can be found in a great international city like the Milan of the Expo.
Milan cannot necessarily be summed up in a word, a slogan or an image, and this is not what is being sought today. It is not necessary now to suggest and create a corporate identity, to choose references, or to identify the city with a particular monument or historical figure. What is needed is to create interaction between the various spirits of the city.
Debating and acknowledging the most common perceptions helps us understand who we are and, especially, what we want to be.
To give greater impact to this study, we have involved six leading illustrators in Milan, and their lively, ironic drawings give visual form to the most recognisable aspects of the city. Much of the inspiration comes from an examination of what Milan has in common,
looking at its history, monuments, work, personalities and popular culture to find the most characteristic elements of our city.
Seven stages set up around the city will host a variety of acts and performances. These scenic machines display the illustrators’ images on a huge scale. Each installation presents three works, and the total of 21 illustrations will be on display in the Sala dell’Impluvium at La Triennale, together with an iconographic study carried out by the Brand Milano Committee.
The illustrators are Julia Binfield, Beppe Giacobbe, Emiliano Ponzi, Guido Scarabottolo, Michele Tranquillini and Olimpia Zagnoli.