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Simona Colombo, M&C Director of Gruppo Cimbali: «Gender equality has no boundaries»

Gruppo Cimbali is officially restarting the spread of coffee culture with the the photographic exhibition “Changing world: the women of coffee-portraits from Masaka” hosted at the Faema flagship store in 7 Via Vincenzo Forcella, in Milan’s Tortona district, while MUMAC – Gruppo Cimbali’s Coffee Machine Museum, reopens on Thursday 10 September and Sunday 13 September.

Gruppo Cimbali gender equality
One of the most beloved photos of the exhibition

MILAN – Gruppo Cimbali is officially restarting the spread of coffee culture: on Tuesday 8 September with the invitation-only opening event for the “Changing world: the women of coffee-portraits from Masaka” photographic exhibition, the Faema flagship store in 7 Via Vincenzo Forcella, in Milan’s Tortona district, reopened its doors to the public, while MUMAC – Gruppo Cimbali’s Coffee Machine Museum, reopens on Thursday 10 September and Sunday 13 September.

We spoke to Simona Colombo, Gruppo Cimbali ’s Marketing and Communications Director, about the exhibition, which is part of the PhotoFestival circuit, now in its fifteenth edition.

This is the sixth consecutive edition of PhotoFestival sponsored by Gruppo Cimbali: how has the situation changed in 2020 with the outbreak of the pandemic?

“For us, reopening together with the fifteenth edition of PhotoFestival and the sixth sponsored by the Group marked a fresh start, in unison with the country. We are reopening the Faema Art & Caffeine flagship store to the public. This unique place, which was replicated with a pop-up version in New York in June 2019 contains, as its name suggests, the art of coffee. This time we are presenting a very important project that developed from an idea by Francesco Sanapo, who, together with photographers Flavio&Frank, went to Uganda in 2019. Francesco went to various plantations to visit coffee sites. This passionate journey resulted in a series of documents, photographs and videos that now symbolise four different things.

The poster-picture of the exhibition

The first is coffee: its story from its origins to its extraction with the Faema brand machines whose most significant models are on display at the flagship.

The second is photography with stories that come to life in the images captured by the lens. The third is the community that we always want to involve in our projects.

Finally, there is a fourth component that is perhaps the most complex to date, namely travel.

The Faema flagship’s doors are reopening with a special exhibition on coffee and we would like this to be a very auspicious event that presages a return to physical travel.

How is gender equality in countries of origin such as Uganda illustrated by this exhibition?

“One of the themes proposed by the City of Milan for the PhotoFestival focuses on women. We selected all the images depicting the women of Masaka, where there is a community of women workers who play a very active role in coffee processing. It was only natural to tell their story. Not least because in many instances working in the industry has enabled a kind of gender liberation that has benefited the whole community and its economy.”

Could photographs focus on the same theme in the country of espresso?

“Why not? There are no boundaries for gender equality.”

Are there any images in the presentation that particularly caught your attention?

“There is a trilogy that we all really love. It consists of three photographs that depict a young woman first sitting with a cup of coffee in profile and then with a close-up of her hands holding it. They are technically brilliant shots with a direct, yet delicate narrative force. You wonder what time of day it is, whether at the beginning or the end. Looking at the cup, which is the fruit of professional emancipation, but also a sensory moment of pleasure, silence and perhaps rest.
We also all really like the photo used for our invitations: another young woman lying on a sea of red, ripe coffee drupes. We know that they are fragrant and sweet.”

Three impressive pictures of the Exhibition (Photo credits: Ginevra Dalla Torre)

With these photographs you enter the heart of a real-life human situation.

“It is like opening the doors of an experience that touches on many aspects that we hold dear. Over a hundred years of experience in designing, producing and distributing espresso machines and services focused on customers also means knowing and evoking coffee’s places of origin.”

A view of the exhibtion (Photo credits: Ginevra Dalla Torre)

How and where can we admire the photographs of the plantations?

“The inauguration took place on Tuesday 8 September at the Faema flagship store in 7 Via Forcella, in the Tortona district. Until 15 November you can register and book your time and date of entry on faema.event@gruppocimbali.com. There is a limited number of admissions and visitors can bring a companion. The Faema flagship store is a space that respects safety regulations. Simply send an email to organize a completely safe visit.