National Film Board of Canada unveils TRACES, an interactive installation in the Canada Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

News release

Canada Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

September 28, 2021 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Global Affairs Canada,

Today, Marie-Geneviève Mounier, Commissioner General for Canada at Expo 2020 Dubai and Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and the National Film Board (NFB) Chairperson, unveiled TRACES, an interactive installation open to the public throughout the world’s fair, from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, at the Canada Pavilion site. Audiences in Canada and around the world will also have the opportunity to experience a web version of the work (starting on October 1 at or to see it during a five-year national and international tour following Dubai 2020.

TRACES is one component of Canada’s substantial presence at Expo 2020 Dubai under the theme The Future in Mind. An NFB production, this work by the architect collective KANVA, multimedia designer and art director Étienne Paquette, and the consulting firm Creos is a poetic vision of an uncertain future and a reflection on the present that challenges visitors, while raising awareness of the growing threat to ecosystems caused by climate change.  

The experience

  • 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 an inclusive, intimate and necessary 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 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, populated by exquisitely crafted birds, forms its own small “pavilion” that asks visitors to engage with it in a way that sparks dialogue and a feeling of community. No specific sequence for exploring the boxes is suggested.
  • TRACES creates a sense of wonder, elicits feelings of emotional attachment, and encourages collective and individual participation—while seeking to inspire the will to act on an international scale.

The interactive installation TRACES will be open to the public and subject to COVID-19 health measures put in place by local authorities in Dubai.

For more information about the NFB’s participation in world’s fairs, click here.


“Our participation in Expo 2020 Dubai celebrates human ingenuity and shares Canada’s vision with the world, under the theme The Future in Mind, demonstrating our diversity and our ability to offer solutions to international issues, such as the climate and environmental challenges that we must overcome. We are pleased to invite you to experience TRACES, which inspires a collective reflection on the interaction between humans and nature.”

- Marie-Geneviève Mounier, Commissioner General of Canada for Expo 2020 Dubai

“After Expo 2010 in Shanghai, the NFB is returning to its tradition of participating in world fairs, for the seventh time, with TRACES. It is a striking illustration of the bold innovation exemplified by Canadian artists, filmmakers and craftspeople, and of the creative spirit demonstrated by our partners. Visitors to this interactive installation, and those who experience the online project, will feel challenged, both personally and as citizens of the world, to reflect on and take action on the pressing climate and environmental issues we are facing today.”

- Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the NFB

Associated links


National Film Board of Canada
Magalie Boutin
Head of Media Relations

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada

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