Most of these portraits are from the 'underground city' under Taipei Main Railway Station. It's a fascinating place, lit in half light, it's easy to forgot the time of day and the heat outside. The place is always packed with students, shoppers, travellers and the homeless. They constantly flows and ebbs down the corridors and in and out of shops. I always wanted to do an around the clock here - you know 24 hours of life in the underground city but I was never brave enough.
The Fortune Teller
As part of the Taipei 101 project, we labeled the people we wanted to meet. We did this, because we felt that after five years in Taipei we still only knew people from a very limited social background - the main ones being English teachers and Taiwanese who could speak good English.
One of the things me and Lewis learned from the labeling was that it wasn't a very good measure of a person. When you label someone with a job or a status, your mind usually comes up with a picture, often a very inaccurate one. The main thing we learned was that we shouldn't take too much notice of the label, it's the person that matters - and people are very good at surprising. Still, if we hadn't labeled people for this project, we wouldn't had met the variety of people we did.
The Pregnant Woman
The pregnant woman was fun to talk to. She was happy and she joked a lot. She found what we were doing interesting and seemed to enjoy the interview, the present swapping and recieving a thank you card.
The Person who practices on the street
The guy was part of a yoyo team. He had been part of it for five years. They loved the underground city as it's dry and they can continue to yoyo even when the weather was wet outside. The guy worked in a factory, though we didn't understand exactly what he did.
The underground city has it's gaming areas and it's students but it's also home to a lot of traditional Chinese practices too. There's fortune tellers, people selling traditional things but the place I liked the most was the one where the masseuses used meat cleavers to massage. This was my opportunity. I had 10 minutes of meat cleavers chopping up my body. It felt great! The woman in the picture below was the one who chopped me up.
The Masseuse who uses a meat cleaver
The student is holding up some Indian money and a invitation to India. It's a joke or a start, depending on how you see it. Lewis had the idea to do a present swap for all the people we met. His idea was that the present will help link the people together. This present was one I put together but some people were very generous in their present giving. One lad gave a shirt, another a T-shirt she had designed, a pawn broker gave us a crazy Japanese ornament and so on. I really didn't think this part of project would work but it did and it was a great feeling giving out the presents and we were always excited to see what people would give in return.