Review of Bologna event with Amnesty International Italia and Bhopal testimonial Sanjay Verma

Images © Francesca Moore & Lorenza Ippolito

I’m welcoming in the New Year with a write-up and some pictures of a recent exhibition and event organized by Chiara Panichi and her team of fellow Amnesty International (AI) Youth Activists in Bologna, Italy, at Galleria Portanova12 on 13 December 2014.

Being officially invited to exhibit Bhopal: Facing 30 family portraits and to give the talk was a very welcome invitation considering we were unable to return to India for the anniversary events in Bhopal. The occasion was even more exciting when it was revealed from the head office in Rome that they had a Bhopal testimonial to join us… I had an inkling that the testimonial might be Sanjay Verma, who also happened to be our translator for the portraits in Bhopal, and it of course was. How wonderful to see him again and to have him at the exhibition!

However, we nearly didn’t make to the event ourselves! Due to National Strikes in Italy on the 12th December, the day we were due to travel, our flights were cancelled and there were no other flights available before Sunday – the day after the event. Panic!

Luckily, owing to Lorenza’s local knowledge and Chiara and Tina’s (Head Office, Rome) swift actions we found a last-minute flight to Nice, leaving a day earlier than scheduled. Fortunately I was on a job in London that was winding up early, so I just about managed to be at Gatwick to depart two hours later… And voila! We made it in time to hang the exhibition, thanks to the help Lorenza’s dad, who kindly collected us from La Spezia, the furthest point we could reach in Italy, by train, before the strikes began.

The event itself was fabulous. Sanjay arrived in Bologna with Laura, an AI representative that he was touring Italy with, during the afternoon so we had plenty of time to catch up, see the show and make the final preparations. Once the event kicked off there must have been a hundred or so people, which is to the credit of Chiara and the team as well as Lorenza, as it’s her home town.

After drinks and refreshments Sanjay and I delivered a talk; I talked about my project, Sanjay about his experiences in 1984, and his campaigning ever since. Our messages the same but our experiences so totally different. To hear him talk was captivating and stimulating, and resonated with my own feelings of Bhopal, and why I wanted to carry out this project. Of course, after that we rounded up the evening in true Italian style… by going out for an Indian!

I’d like to thank everyone involved that made the event happen; Chiara Panichi and other AI Youth Activists for arranging the fantastic event, along with Tina Marinari and Laura Renzi from AI Italia, Rome, Maria Sole from Portanova12 for giving us the space, Lorenza Ippolito for her ongoing support and for hanging the show with me as well as her impromptu and commendable translations and of course to Antonio Ippolito for the lift!



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