Have you ever been to an exhibit whose purpose is educating people about the environment?

I can see two answers.

The first would be, No.

The other would be Yes, and it was BORING.

Why can a photography exhibit be amazing? Or why are we excited to see King Tut? And why does the combination of the words Environment and Exhibit make us yawn? Because they are always boring.

I used to think they were always boring, until five days ago.

Last week Rio hosted a UN conference on sustainable development, called Rio +20.

These are the event numbers taken from their Web site

Participants at Riocentro (as of close of 21 June)
• Total number of participants: 45,381
• Delegations participated from 188 countries and three observers
• Over 100 Heads of State and Government
• Delegates: approximately 12,000
• NGOs and Major Groups: 9,856
• Media: 4,075
• Dialogue Day passes for civil society: 1,781
• Security Personnel: 4,363
• About 5,000 people worked at Riocentro daily.

Looks impressive, doesn’t it? And it felt impressive!

Military police, military choppers buzzing around, military ships off the Ipanema beach, security everywhere, horrible traffic. What else can I blame on +20? Well, the weather was not great.I will blame it on +20.

There was, however, one beautiful thing that happened because of Rio +20. It was the exhibit held at Forte de Copacabana. Humanidade 2012.

Wait, don’t judge by the first picture!

Doesn’t it look a little strange? Metal everywhere, plants tucked in-between the metal bars, no walls.

“The building’s see through structure represents sharing ideas and transparency we want,” according to  Eduardo Eugenio Gouvea Viera, the president of the Federation of Industries in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The statement was made in relation not only to the exhibit but also to other functions that the building was designed for, i.e., meetings and concerts.

In my opinion, the metal structure that aesthetically does not look extremely pleasing represents the modern industrial world overpowering the fragile nature. But, I guess, Sr. Viera is right. The absence of walls does help to move ideas through the space easier. Otherwise, they would be bouncing off the walls.

And this is even more surreal! Who is this gentleman talking to? Plants? No, wait! To a mile-long line of people that you can’t see in the picture.

A couple of years ago I refused to spend hours to get into the Louvre. If I tell you how many hours I waited to get inside this exhibit, you will think that I am insane, so I will keep it to myself. All I can tell is that it was a horribly organized beautiful exhibit.

May be, the organizers wanted to give people enough time to ponder on what they were seeing around them by making them stand in line for hours and hours and many more hours?

This is not even the whole line. This is the line you get into after spending several hours outside the fort. And then after you go through the security, there is another line inside the building

The building had several rooms that looked like chambers suspended between the metal pipes and connected by ramps.

The World We Live In Room was a result of collaboration of Brazilian physicists and artists. It focused on showing the Earth’s reality such as it is nowadays through machines, drawing, light and sound, and represented the concept of anthropocene (term created by Nobel prize winner chemist Paul Crutzen, who considered  human influence on the planet’s functioning so significant that it would justify inaugurating a new era in geologic time scale).

The concept is erasing of nature. This tool moves back and forth and removes the nature painting on the wall.

Some disturbing photography found its place at the exhibit too.

I swear I was not following this girl. We were just moving through at the same pace.

A quote by Celso Furtado, an economist who was, according to Wikipedia, “one of the most distinguished intellectuals of his country (Brazil) in the 20th century” inspired the creation of The Split World Room:

“The challenge that arises at the threshold of the 21st century is nothing less than challenging the course of civilization, shifting its axis from the logic of the means serving accumulation in a short term horizon to the logic of the ends serving social well-being, of exercising freedom and cooperation among peoples.”

There is money flying inside this tunnel.

Man and His Connections Room focuses on establishing a link between human needs and wishes and the means of industrial, educational, technological production, etc.

There are small windows all over the room. If you look inside, you can read all sorts of statistical data.

Brazilian Biodiversity Room (picture below) might as well be called The Meditation Room. Soothing sounds of birds and beautiful colors worked together towards relaxation and not awareness of the “limits imposed by human activities in the past 200 years and their changing action on ecosystem”.

A concept of Darcy Ribeiro, Brazilian anthropologist, inspired the creating of Brazilian Human Diversity Room.

“You all are in charge of building this country, but build it without copying anyone, with all the different potentials, which are huge, with a tropical civilization and a mestizo civilization that has inherited from the indians this talent for living together, from the Africans this spirituality, and from the Europeans, the technology and European wisdom, we are ready to be one of the world’s civilizations.”

The cubes, I think, represented individuals. Each side had a unique first name written on it.

Rio de Janeiro Room with images of Rio on the walls looked just as crazy, bright and fascinating as the city itself.

This was a benefit of spending the whole day waiting in line! By the time I was able to get up to the observation deck, the lights were on and the sky was dark. And I could see Copacabana in the evening in front of me.