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Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago




[18.10.23] A Century Later: Kyrgyz Mountains Through Italian Eyes

The opening of the Italian photographer Stefano Torrione's exhibition at the Bishkek History Museum was attended by many prominent persons. The exhibition "In Central Asia in the footsteps of Scipione Borghese and Jules Brocherel" documents two Italian expeditions to the Kyrgyz mountains.
 
The first expedition took place on 1900 and was organized and guided by the Italian prince Scipione Borghese and the Italian photographer and ethnographer Jules Brocherel. The expedition left from a small mountainous region of Italy called Valle D'Aosta, and aimed to carry out scientific and geographical surveys in the northern Himalayas. The expedition aspired to reach the mythic peak of Khan-Tengri, on the border between Kyrgyzstan and China. The importance of this enterprise was great considering that the Khan-Tengri peak was still unexplored. There was little information about this peak, most of it contained in Russian military maps. Due to the lack of information and incorrect distance evaluations the expedition reached the mountain too late to make the final ascent. Although the beginning of winter forced the explorers to come back, the importance of this enterprise remained historically and scientifically great. Firstly, they were among the first people to document the exact position of the Khan-Tengri. Secondly, during the journey through Central Asia they gathered an exceptional photographic documentation of local people and cultures.
 
A century later another photographer from Valle D'Aosta Stefano Torrione, together with Italian arts critic Eugenio Alberti Schatz, traveled through the region repeating the enterprise of Borghese and Brocherel. The picture book of the second expedition integrates photographs from the first, resulting in the extraordinary exhibition presently hosted in Bishkek.
 
This event opening in the Kyrgyz capital bears witness to the increasing closeness of Kyrgyzstan and Italy as well as the Italian interest in the Central Asian Republic that demonstrates that the relationship between the two countries is becoming stronger and stronger.
 
State Secretary Osmonakun Ibraimov thanked the Italian authorities for their interest in Kyrgyzstan, and for the unique opportunity to host such an important event. He underlined the importance of this exhibition in widening the knowledge that people all around the world have about Kyrgyzstan, and consequently in improving economic co-operation with the Central Asian Republic.
 
The National Center for Development of Mountain Areas of the Kyrgyz Republic under Mr. Asylbek Aidaraliyev organized the exhibition with the financial support of the Italian Embassy in Kyrgyzstan.
 
Italian Ambassador Diego Lorenzo Longo, arriving from Almaty for this unique occasion, highlighted its importance for Italy as well. Torrione managed to capture the essence of the feeling, that Ambassador Lorenzo described as the admiration and amazement pervading a human being before the great and rugged nature of the mountain. He also emphasized the extraordinary characteristic of the photos that enables to see "Kyrgyz mountains through Italian eyes."
 
By Stefania Lenzotti,
The Times of Central Asia, October 18, 2003

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