An exploration about our present, and a possible future
Via Cesare Correnti 14, Milan
From September 28 until October 10, 2020
Produced by 5 Vie
Tropical Milan is a new project by Erez Nevi Pana for 5 Vie district. Following the exhibition
Vegan Design – Or the Art of Reduction (2018) at Garage San Remo – the Israeli designer
presents a new installation comprising a film that addresses the themes of veganism, self-
sustainability, and global warming, and once again corners human beings to their responsibilities.
In 2018, after his return to his homeland, Nevi Pana reflected upon the exhibition presented
in Milan, which was realized with vegan materials he had found and collected over time. He
confronted the limits of this practice for his future projects, and challenged the idea of using,
not only vegan supplies, but also going one step further, growing his own ingredients,
so that he could gain total control over them.
Tropical Milan is a visionary immersion in a jungle-like environment - which could stand
as a symbol for the center of the city of Milan - in which human beings are forced to confront,
among other symptoms, extreme humidity, a mosquito invasion, and the dramatic results of
wrong monoculture (single crop production, ex. bananas trees) which results in limited food
supply, poverty and global mass migrations. As we see in Nevi Pana’s movie, humanity is
forced to slow down, stay still, breathe differently, and protect themselves by turning into
cocoons - also made here with fully sustainable home grown fibres. The man in the film
who serves as an icon (you cannot even see his face as he represents all of us) is
surrounded by banana plants (the same ones we found in the venue) that recall the idea of
multitude. He sleeps, tragically referring to the state we are living in today. Instead of
waking up and doing something for all of us, for himself, for our planet, he is acting blindly
and way too slowly; he awaits for something to happen, and that is how we will end up
sooner than we think in such an inhospitable environment.
In reaction to this futuristic vision, Erez Nevi Pana imagines a series of pieces made of
banana stems and leaves, luffa or bamboo, that he has grown himself not only to be 100%
sustainable but also fully responsible, projecting a new frontier of what it would mean to
realize total creations in the XXI Century.
The film is slow and it seems that nothing is happening. Instead, a lot is happening
there. We only perceive the result as we deal with an Ilja Ilič Oblomov-like character –
coincidentally the landowner by Ivan Aleksandrovič Gončarov (1859). As in this Russian
classic we see a man totally absorbed in his deep apathy, nothing can arouse him, even if
he is a man of noble and virtuous instincts. His lack of will-power is his cage; a cage he has
The film soundtrack is also very meaningful. Nevi Pana chose a contemporary trance music
to counterpart the images in the film, as a declaration of imminence and urgency. As a
reversal of the sights in the video, the sound simulates the cognitive trance in which the
person lives and presents a total detachment from reality.
Through Tropical Milan the city becomes the symbol of global decadence, in contrast with
its charming, glamorous, and hyperactive image, and for its cynical and grief way of
living that the designer totally refuses. This apocalyptic scenario also exposes the viewer
to an unspectacular reality, in which time appears to slow down, society is highly
compromised or totally cancelled; slowness, loneliness, and silence overshadow any of
human beings' possible activities. We don’t want to reach this point. We know it is late,
but much can still be done, otherwise the banana trees planted a few years ago in Piazza
Duomo won’t be just a decoration any longer. Climate change is real and is happening
because of our behaviors; and yes, “the house is on fire”. (Greta Thunberg).