Tobie Openshaw and Xiao Juan (小娟) at the opening of the exhibition
This afternoon I went to the opening of an exhibition of photos by Tobie Openshaw. The exhibition entitled "Betelnut Beauty" features photos by Tobie of betel nut girls in Taoyuan and Xinzhu. You can see some of Tobie's photos at flickr, however I suggest visiting the exhibition if you get the chance. The photos look much brighter and detailed as large prints and make a much greater impact.
Tobie spoke about his reasons for putting on the exhibition. He has been photographing betel nut girls for about seven years and sees it is a unique part of life in Taiwan that couldn't exist anywhere else in the world. He originally tried to produce a documentary about the girls. He pitched it to National Geographic twice and they knocked it back. The reason? Because there weren't any unhappy betel nut girls!
Tobie also said that most people in Taiwan have already made up their minds about betel nut girls. Many people think of them as "bad girls". Through his photos he hopes to show the character and personality of the girls.
Ada, the betel nut girl in one of Tobie's photos on the left, was unable to attend the exhibition because of a motorcycle accident. Her friend Xiao Juan (in the photo at the top) attended in her place. I tried to talk to her, but she was very shy. I didn't learn much about her except that she was from Taoyuan and had worked as a betel nut girl for five or six years.
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The exhibition runs until 8 March. Full details of when and where are below.
Hung Chong Gallery
396-1 Ren-ai Road Section 4 Taipei
10:00am — 6:00pm
February 24 — March 8, 2007