Central Axis contest shows route to cultural awareness

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Central Axis contest shows route to cultural awareness
The area near the Bell Tower provides a space for people to enjoy the historical location in various ways. Board games and skateboarding are just some of the activities that take place in the cultural hot spot. [Photo by Zhu Yunxia/China Daily]

A total of 30 photographs by those in the 6-17 age bracket were selected as winners for their depiction of a major feature in the capital.

The selection, by a panel of judges on Oct 26, was for images of the Competition for the Transmission and Promotion of Beijing Central Axis.

The photographs were part of the competition and more than 2,000 works, covering various aspects such as scenery, architecture and humanities along the axis, were submitted.

The competition was hosted by the Beijing Municipal Cultural Heritage Bureau and the Beijing Municipal Office for Conservation and Management of Central Axis.

The axis, one of the most important representations of Chinese civilization, refers to the core area of the ancient capital city that stretches for 7.8 kilometers from the Yongding Gate in the south to the Bell Tower and Drum Tower in the north. This area tells the stories of the emperors from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), as well as recording the lives of both historical figures and ordinary people.

Since the competition was launched on July 20, it has received widespread attention and a positive response from all walks of life, according to organizers.

Participants were able to submit works that covered plans for time-honored brands, films and photos, creative cultural items, as well as digital expressions of axis elements.

The competition attracted 76,294 entries nationwide.

Experts had enthusiastic discussions over the selection of the winners, and expressed their delight at the increasing participation of youth in the protection of the heritage and culture of the axis.

The organizers hope youth participation will enable more people to discover the beauty of historic features from their unique perspectives and ignite their enthusiasm for understanding, protecting and inheriting Central Axis culture. Their photographs also shed new light on aspects of the splendor of the axis.

"I'm glad to see the emergence of many high-quality works featuring starry nights in the youth category of this competition," says Zhou Bo, a professional astronomical photographer on the judge panel.

The theme of the axis is highly compatible with astronomical elements, and integration of the two will bring out the unique beauty of the city, Zhou adds.

"Young people can learn and record the movement of the stars during the shooting process, and can feel the unique historical atmosphere of the axis," Zhou says.

Zhang Zhiyong, president of Dongcheng district federation of literature and arts, was also a judge this year. He says he is glad to see the participants appreciate traditional culture, which is more relevant to the theme of the competition.

"Looking at the Central Axis from the perspective of youth, I felt their works distinctive and expressive, and I'm looking forward to more exciting works in the future," Zhang says.

Experts also put in suggestions for future axis-based competitions.

Jiang Yanying, associate professor of the Academy of Fine Arts at Minzu University of China, suggested that the competition should host cultural popularization lectures and other guidance activities to help young people better understand the history and culture of the Central Axis before creating their works.

"It's best that young people go to the various heritage sites themselves and have a dialogue with excellent Chinese traditional culture," Jiang says.

The contest aims to spread the historical and cultural values of the axis, and promote young people's understanding and love of the city. At present, the organizing committee of the competition has held 15 lectures on the cultural heritage along Beijing's Central Axis, which have gained the attention of more than 15 million people.

Well-known artists have been invited to enter public cultural spaces in the city to show the cultural connotations of the axis from multiple perspectives and dimensions in the fields of cultural heritage, painting, art and literature, leading the public on a unique Central Axis tour.

A total of 17 final evaluations will be held, until Nov 13, for 11 categories of the competition, and all final winners will be announced at the beginning of December.

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