Staff Reporter –
There were several areas of cooperation between the Italian Consulate in Kolkata and various groups in the city in terms of seminars, discussions, workshops and other socio-cultural and trade events which took place over the past 3 years.
There were the Italo-Kolkatan Heritage Conversations with scholars from Italy who came to Kolkata to discuss the artistic links between the city and Italy. For instance, Isabella Nardi spoke about Italian artists active in the city and Chiara Rostagno spoke about twelve marble busts in the gardens of Victoria Memorial. All these events were held at heritage sites such as the Victoria Memorial and in Tagore’s palace.
To highlight the Italian connection with Rabindranath Tagore, a permanent exhibition was inaugurated at the Rabindra Bharati Museum to celebrate the connection between Tagore and Italy. The journeys and events surrounding Tagore’s three visits to Italy and a comprehensive glimpse into the places and times (through visuals and quotes), the link between Italian scholars and artists with the Tagore Family/RBU/Vishwa Bharati University.
Another initiative was to engage and address the youth in Kolkata and show them Italy in a different manner. The Italian Consulate had a series of comic strips designed by Upal Sengupta (the famous singer and cartoonist) on The Adventures of Puchki and Cookie in Italy, where a young Bengali teenager, Puchki, visits Italy with her dog Cookie and embarks on a journey to cities like Florence and Naples, seeing them from a teenage perspective.
To highlight and celebrate the Christmas season, the Consulate organized four Christmas Concerts where choir groups composed of children from different backgrounds, including those of the schools for the blind were taught to sing songs in several different languages such as in English, Hindi, Bengali, Italian and even Latin.
Highlighting the cultural affinity between Italy and Kolkata, the Consulate helped organize several photo exhibitions entitled ‘From Kolkata to Italy.’ The exhibitions were held at the National Library, in the Lalit Bakery and Trams. The idea behind this was to place two photographical archives in dialogue with each other. As this was during Covid times, (and no one was allowed to go outside to take photographs), so the Consulate used the novel idea to send a series of Black and White photographs of Kolkata by Rachit Deb, to Italy, and to identify matching photographs of various Italian cities.
For students going to Italy for their education, the Consul General organized several High Teas ensuring interaction with former students so that any queries about the situation in a different country, their expectations, etc. could be addressed by former students who had returned back home.
The concept of sharing an evening of Italian Aperitivo (meaning small bites and special drinks) with individuals from the creative arts, food bloggers or important guests visiting from Italy was introduced in India for the first time by the Consul General.
There were 100 such events undertaken during the tenure of Consul General Rubagotti which have benefited the city of Kolkata.