Italian industrial heritage exhibition in Chongqing sparks cultural dialogue

(Xinhua) 16:25, March 13, 2024

CHONGQING, March 13 (Xinhua) -- During an ongoing exhibition in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, Olivetti Programma 101, which is a prototype of the personal computer, an M20 typewriter with a history of some 100 years and other exhibits help facilitate an interesting cultural dialogue between Chongqing and Italy's Ivrea -- which are both renowned for having rich industrial relics.

The weeks-long exhibition, "The World of Olivetti: A Utopian Community," features 84 items, including magazines, books, photographs, and typewriters, telling the story of the century-old Olivetti business. This company was once a leader in fields such as typewriters and computers. In addition to the story of the Olivetti business, the exhibition also focuses on Olivetti himself and his hometown of Ivrea. Olivetti was a famous Italian entrepreneur.

Divided into four spaces, the exhibition hall has a unique design. The wooden cases in the hall are not only containers for packaging and transporting exhibits, but also serve as complete showcases.

From metal and glass to acrylic, documents made of various materials complement each other, and along with typewriters, computers, and other objects, reveal the development process of the Olivetti company, while also giving a glimpse of the development of Ivrea and insight into the rich industrial heritage of Italy.

Notably, the Jiulongyiku building complex, where the exhibition is being held, was formerly a warehouse site of a local Chongqing company. After several rounds of renovation, it has now become a cultural and creative base, which echoes the essence of this exhibition -- how to utilize industrial heritage in urban renewal efforts today.

"The theme of this exhibition, 'A Utopian Community,' is a reflection of how Jiulongyiku has been building the 'New Neighborhood Center of the City,'" said Wu Guanglong, general manager of Jiulongyiku's operating company. "With the vision of updated consumption scenes, rejuvenated business models, and reconstructed urban design, we aim to promote micro-renewal and upgrading of Chongqing and gather innovative and creative industries."

"Ivrea is an industrial development center in northwest Italy. Chongqing is an important automobile producer in China, and both cities are powerful in terms of industries. This exhibition is conducive to cultural exchanges between the two cities and the two countries," said exhibition organizer Fabio Schina, who is also the consul general of Italy in Chongqing.

In addition, Schina took note of Chongqing's efforts to preserve its industrial heritage.

For instance, there are now restaurants in Chongqing that were previously air-raid shelters, while some old warehouses have been transformed into leisure blocks. Many former industrial areas and factories have been restored and turned into innovative cultural public spaces and have become part of Chongqing's campaign to promote its urban image, according to Schina.

The exhibition in Chongqing has attracted many local professionals in the urban renewal and design fields.

"This exhibition not only features documents and artifacts but also integrates a photographic exhibition. Through the perspectives of four photographers, Ivrea's spatial aesthetics and human memory are revealed," commented Chen Yizhong, an urban renewal practitioner who once helped renovate a printing factory in Chongqing that has now become a popular tourist destination.

Chen believes the exhibition is not only about providing Chinese audiences with an opportunity to learn about the Italian city of Ivrea, but also makes a significant contribution in terms of China's future industrial heritage protection efforts.

The exhibition, which started on March 5, will run until April 23.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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