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From London to Beijing: sixteen countries, 40,000 km, over a period of four months, travel photographer Christopher Wilton-Steer used his artistic lens to capture the divergence and convergence of cultures. The Aga Khan Foundation presents the photographer’s open-air photography exhibition titled The Silk Road: A Living History, which documents the artist’s journey along the historic trade route during 2019, on view until June 16 at Granary Square, Kings Cross (London).

Aiming to commemorate the diversity of cultural expressions found along the Silk Road, the show highlights illustrations of the timelessness of traditional practices, rituals and customs, while also revealing the hidden connections between contrasting cultures. Comprised of over one hundred and sixty photographs, the exhibition brings viewers through the lens of the artist’s journey from London to Beijing, encountering many of the people, places and cultures along the ancient route.

Offering a cultural revival, the show’s linear design creates a physical route for the viewer to explore. The exhibition opens up a new dimension of destinations that are currently unreachable under the current state of travel in the world. According to the artist, “at a time when we are unable to travel, I hope that this exhibition will provide visitors with an escape from the UK into other worlds far away.” Works featured will include photographs from Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, China and elsewhere.

Having always been drawn to the allure of the Silk Road, Wilton-Steer undertook his journey between July and November of 2019. Traversing sixteen countries over four months he travelled 40,000 km overland by car, bus, train, ferry, horse and camel. Hoping to encourage others to take the road less travelled through his work, the London-based photographer uses his camera to explore the undocumented and misunderstood parts of the world in an effort to elucidate them, bridging an understanding between cultures.

Quoting the artist, the exhibition text reads, “when we fly somewhere, we arrive at the destination and all aspects of life are different. By travelling over land, I hoped to understand more about the similarities between different cultures and learn more about what connects us.”
Christopher Wilton-Sheer's exhibition The Silk Road: A Living History is on view until June 16 at Granary Square, Kings Cross (London).

Paige Peacock

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