INTRODUCING the culture of one nation to different nations is a very abstract concept which can take many forms: from lengthy academic discourses through one-time exhibitions or concerts, to cultural exchange programmes. Yet, none of these guarantee that one is able to make a good selection across history, architecture, arts and entertainment to come up with the perfect cocktail of everything that represents Italian culture. Perhaps this is the reason why I am so pleased to see a tradition growing from our Dolce Vitaj festival which has now lived to see its 3rd annual offering. Of course, we will be able to talk about a true tradition only after the festival lives on for another couple of years, but I see a very strong heart beating in the body of this festival.
This year, for example, we opened the festival with a special exhibition which hints at the wide range of arts and traditions that we want to have represented at the festival: 50 years of Italian fashion. It is not only a collection of images of fancy clothes done by designers who sell the best, but rather a journey through the “evolution of taste” showing the journey that fashion has made to become a form of artistic expression, a vehicle for cultural diffusion.
Thanks to the extraordinary creativity of Italian designers, from the first generation represented by Sorelle Fontana, Fabiani, Emilio Schubert, Jole Veneziani and Emilio Pucci to more recent ones such as Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferre, Giorgio Armani, Prada, our Italian fashion has come to represent the true essence of the concept “Made in Italy”, perceived as a mix of lifestyle, culture and imagination.
Designers, just like artists, are affected by societal changes and changes in lifestyle: fashion therefore becomes a mirror of the social and cultural development of societies. To carry the idea even further: fashion is also the language of the soul. When I read the catalogue of the exhibition the following thought captured my attention: in order to create fashion it is necessary to be brave, cultured, and tasteful and to have aesthetic sense but especially to have intuition. These are precisely the qualities that the last generations of Italian designers have demonstrated and the qualities that our festival is trying to share with the Slovak public.
Yet, it is only one of the many aspects of the festival; only one of the multiple faces of Italian culture that we want to bring to the people of Slovakia.
Last year the main focus was on celebrating Futurism, the artistic movement that originated in Italy in 1909 when the Italian poet F.T.Marinetti published the Futurism Manifesto. The Slovak public demonstrated great interest in this artistic movement, characterised by dynamism and special trust in the future. This year, besides the exhibition of Italian fashion, we also had the joyful opportunity to listen to the best pieces of Verdi’s operas performed by the Soloists of San Carlo’s Theatre of Naples, and soon after, in the premises of the Ministry of Culture (the prestigious Dvorana Hall) to wonder at the exhibition of “Mosaic Textures”, copies of the ancient mosaics of Ravenna, a city which is now running to be a European Capital of Culture in 2019.
The Dolce Vitaj festival will visit towns other than Bratislava, and will have events in Poprad, Košice, Zvolen, Nitra and Žilina. As part of the festival the annual award “Elsa Morante – Movie – Bratislava” will be delivered to movie directors Giuseppe Tornatore and Dušan Hanák and to translator Miroslava Vallová.
The fact that we succeeded in organising the third annual “Dolce Vitaj” festival shows that intelligent cooperation between Italian and Slovak institutions can in fact build a tradition that will help Slovaks to better understand us Italians and our culture. The interest of the Slovak public encourages us to institutionalise the Italian festival here in Slovakia for many more years.
What I see as one of my major tasks is to introduce even more of the Italian culture in Slovakia. While culture is such a multifaceted concept, “Dolce Vitaj” provides me with a perfect tool for doing so since it skilfully combines painting, music, fashion, language, gastronomy and photography. It is our opened window for Slovakia to observe Italian lifestyle and culture.
Brunella Borzi is the Italian Ambassador to Slovakia
14. Jun 2010 at 0:00 | Brunella Borzi