ARTS / ART
Arts festival in North China seeks to promote B&R
Cultural feast
Published: Sep 16, 2021 06:53 PM
A silk market at the Belt and Road and the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival 2021 Photos: Courtesy of Jiao Guoyuan ?A Chinese fan
?A handicraftsman shows her woodcarving skills to a visitor at the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival 2021 in Langfang, North China's Hebei Province, on Thursday.

A silk market at the Belt and Road and the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival 2021 Photo: Courtesy of Jiao Guoyuan

A silk market at the Belt and Road and the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival 2021 Photos: Courtesy of Jiao Guoyuan ?A Chinese fan
?A handicraftsman shows her woodcarving skills to a visitor at the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival 2021 in Langfang, North China's Hebei Province, on Thursday.

A Chinese fan Photo: Courtesy of Jiao Guoyuan

A silk market at the Belt and Road and the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival 2021 Photos: Courtesy of Jiao Guoyuan ?A Chinese fan
?A handicraftsman shows her woodcarving skills to a visitor at the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival 2021 in Langfang, North China's Hebei Province, on Thursday.

A handicraftsman shows her woodcarving skills to a visitor at the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival 2021 in Langfang, North China's Hebei Province, on Thursday.  Photo: Courtesy of Jiao Guoyuan

Entering the grand Silk Road International Cultural Exchange Center, though people are required to wear face masks, you can still hear the sound of giggling and laughing as both the young and the old enjoy the fantastic performances at the Belt and Road and the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival 2021.

"The Chinese waist drum dance show was so brilliant. The dancers had such a close interaction with us," Song, a 68-year-old visitor who just watched a carnival performance in the hall, told the Global Times.

Running from Wednesday to Friday in Langfang, North China's Hebei Province, the first session of the Belt and Road and the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival aims to spread the culture of the Great Wall and promote cultural exchanges with countries taking part in the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R) through 23 online and offline exhibitions, seminars with Chinese and foreign artists and folk art performances.

Li Xiaofei, head of Ennova Culture and a co-organizer of the festival, told the Global Times that they invited foreign artists from 10 different B&R countries who are currently based in China.

"Due to the ongoing global pandemic, it is a pity that many artists overseas who have the passion to attend the festival could not join. But we would like to invite more art groups abroad to China for cultural exchanges in the future," said Li, adding that the organizers see the art festival as an Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Chinese characteristics.

Folk art on display

Since the event is one of the few art festivals to be held in China during the pandemic, both the organizers and attendees seemed to be enjoying the rare cultural feast. 

"I haven't participated in such a great art festival for a long time, and now here I get the sense of freedom again," one visitor surnamed Liu told the Global Times. 

"This festival is just amazing. I have been hooked by many exquisite intangible cultural heritage programs performed at the exhibition," an exhibitor at the Centennial Heritage Folk Art Exhibition from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region told the Global Times. 

At the Centennial Heritage Folk Art Exhibition, visitors can see exhibits on traditional production techniques from 18 provinces and regions in China such as the Tibet copper forging from Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Uygur copperware from Kashgar in Xinjiang, traditional Mongolia clothing from North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Pu'er tribute tea in Southwest China's Yunnan Province. 

Meanwhile, the exhibition is also displaying the traditional folk art of five B&R countries through performances, photographs and videos such as Russia's spoon dance, porcelain from Hungary and the fancy headbands of Slovakia.

Multicultural integration

The exhibition is just one part of the festival. At the east side of the hall, a set of 51 paintings by well-known painter Qi Baishi from the collection of Beijing's Palace Museum are on display, while more than 10 artworks from artist Wu Jian'an, the Chinese representative to the 57th Venice Biennale, form the backbone of his The Huge Sand Dunes Are the Bed of the Sea exhibition. 

Wu said most of his artworks are inspired by Chinese myths including those in The Classic of Mountains and Seas and Chinese folk art like shadow plays. The alternating lightness and darkness of the lights on both sides of the exhibit represents eternity and cycle of life and the unity of yin and yang. 

He told the Global Times that while his exhibition has deep roots in Chinese culture, he is confident that overseas visitors will still be able to enjoy the beauty and charm of his exhibition. 

"Culture does not have borders. I think foreign visitors will be able to feel the spirit of my exhibition through their senses."

During the opening ceremony on Wednesday night, the Great Harmony show featuring a wide variety of performances such as Peking Opera, dances from Egypt, Spain and Russia, and opera from Italy won applause from the audience. 

Jose Augusto Duarte, ambassador of Portugal to China, told the Global Times that the traditional Chinese performances were marvelous and that he was very impressed by the excerpt from the opera The Barber of Seville, noting that the Chinese singer captured the spirit of the Italian opera.  

Strict anti-pandemic measures 

On the second floor, some kids from a local kindergarten in Langfang were buzzing with excitement, heading to the exhibitions under the guard of their teachers.

Wang Yongliang, head of the kindergarten, told the Global Times that the anti-pandemic measures at the event are very strict. All employees were required to take a nucleic acid COVID-19 test good within the past two days and must scan their health QR code twice at day.

While the restrictions can make things more complicated, Wang said that he thinks that the fair has been worth it since he "hopes our kids can learn more about culture both in China and abroad."  

According to reports, over 600 guests, including foreign representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in China, foreign diplomatic personnel and arts and culture officials in China have attended the cultural feast.
blog comments powered by Disqus