The visual arts, and in particular photography, are increasingly being used by today’s youth as a powerful tool for communication and self-expression. As such, they have the potential to play a significant role in raising awareness of the key issues facing our contemporary globalizing world. 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.
Organized within the framework of the UNESCO Silk Roads Programme, UNESCO Youth Programme and the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), the 2019 edition of the contest is open for entries from 19 September 2019 to 6 January 2020.
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 living or travelling 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. Participants are invited to submit photographs that best encapsulate the shared heritage of the Silk Roads through one or more of the three themes of Gastronomy and Food Production, Traditional Sports and Games, and Music and Dance. 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 contest 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. In addition, winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the award ceremony. Those under 17 years of age may be 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. To commemorate the occasion, these exceptional photographs will ultimately appear in a professionally bound photo album.