The annual Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads International Photo Contest offers an exciting opportunity for young people from all over the world to capture their understanding of the shared heritage of the Silk Roads through the lens of their camera. As the visual arts, and in particular photography, are so often used by today’s youth as a powerful tool for communication and self-expression, images have the potential to play a significant role in raising awareness of the key issues facing our contemporary globalizing world. This year in particular, at a time where many educational and cultural institutions have been temporarily closed, the photo contest provides an opportunity for young people to connect with one another in a digital space and share their creativity and vision for our post-pandemic world. Many hubs of social activity and human interaction, including schools, have been adversely affected by Covid-19, in light of these disruptions UNESCO is endeavouring to support remote learning, educational access, and youth engagement with culture, through its many initiatives.
Organized within the framework of the UNESCO Silk Roads Programme, and in line with the objectives of UNESCO Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme, the UNESCO Youth Programme, by UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector, the 2021 edition of the Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads photo contest is open for entries from 24 May 2021 to 24 August 2021.
The Silk Roads are an expansive region composed of a network of maritime and land routes. Originating in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia the Silk Roads cross the Central Asian sub-continent, the Russian steppe, the Iranian and Anatolian plateaus, and the Arabian Peninsula. They also stretch through North Africa and Northeast Africa, from Tanzania to Morocco. Additionally, they pass through Eastern and Southern Europe, before reaching France and Spain. Please see the map here
The Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Contest is an opportunity for young people who live or have travelled within these regions to share their perceptions and further their understanding of the common cultural heritage and pluralistic identities emerging from the interactions and exchanges taking place along the Silk Roads. The contest encourages the use of photography to extend these cultural interactions and encounters in the contemporary world, to foster mutual understanding and promote peace amongst the diverse populations encompassed by the Silk Roads.
The contest is divided into two age categories: 14-17 year olds, and 18-25 year olds. For the 3rd edition of the contest this year participants are invited to submit their photographs that best encapsulate the shared heritage of the Silk Roads through the two parallel themes of ‘Textiles and Clothing’, and ‘Intercultural Exchanges in the Time of Covid-19, including in the field of Textiles and Clothing’. The Selection Committee members will then examine these submissions and select the winners from each of the age categories. Examples of some of the very best photographs from the 2018 and 2019 contests can be found here.
The contest will culminate with an award ceremony, with three winners selected from each age category. First place winners will receive a professional camera. Second place winners will receive a semi-professional camera, and the prize for third place will be a standard-model digital camera. Subject to Covid-19 restrictions, winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the award ceremony, with those under 17 years of age accompanied by one family member, courtesy of UNESCO.
A travelling exhibition of around fifty photos that best represent the spirit of the contest will be exhibited in various places around the world, again, depending on sanitation restrictions. To further commemorate the occasion, these exceptional photographs will ultimately appear in a professional photo album.
All queries must be directed to: Silkroadsphotocontest@unesco.org