TRACES Opens at Expo 2020 Dubai

Co-designed by Montreal-based KANVA, the installation is unveiled after a year's delay.

Co-designed by the Montreal-based architectural collective KANVA, the interactive installation TRACES opens in Dubai today as a major component of Canada’s presence at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Jewel: A flock of birds fossilized mid-flight into a precious jewel that is magnified by a shimmering light to evoke wonder. Photo credit: Gerry O’Leary

Delayed a year along with the entire Expo programme because of the pandemic, TRACES is now installed at the Canada Pavilion site. This National Film Board National Film Board production was designed by KANVA along with multimedia artist Étienne Paquette and consulting firm Creos Inc. It has been described as a poetic vision of an uncertain future and a challenge to visitors to be aware of the growing threat to ecosystems caused by climate change. Audiences in Canada and around the world can also experience a web version of the work here, or to see it during a five-year national and international tour after the closing of Dubai 2020.

The Memorial: A murmuration of birds traveling across a landscape, fossilized in a moment of fragile beauty, serves as a respectful tribute to the elegance of living species and a lament for their disappearance. Photo credit: KANVA

Developed around the idea of the imminent disappearance of natural landscapes and living species, TRACES presents immersive and interactive experiences to emphasize the value of dialogue between humans and nature. The aesthetic and conceptual interpretation of a murmuration of birds, fossilized in mid-flight, gives rise to a family of artifacts that bear witness to the accelerated extinction of threatened species.

The Forgotten: Carelessly discarded at our feet, the fossils of birds and natural habitats are a testimony to the collective indifference toward the beauty that surrounds us. Photo credit: Gerry O’Leary

The art installation is composed of a series of eight “boxes,” all built at human scale: The Jewel, The Nearness, The Memorial, The Forgotten, The Seat, The Gathering, The Sanctuary and The Awareness. These boxes, arranged on the plaza and in the Canada Pavilion’s entrance hall, invite visitors to reflect on the imminent disappearance of large portions of our environment. Each box forms its own small “pavilion” that sparks dialogue and a feeling of community.

TRACES will operate as part of Expo 2020 Dubai until March 31st, 2022.