A reporter’s snapshots capture democracy in Taiwan

 

Taiwan Snapshots of Democracy cover

Taiwan: Snapshots of Democracy in Action (我鏡頭下的民主時刻) is a photo book by Taiwan-based German journalist Klaus Bardenhagen (aka taiwanreporter). As well as being packed with photos it is fully bilingual with text in English and Chinese.

The book covers the period from 2008 to 2012 which was Ma Ying-jeou’s first term as president. Events are neatly bracketed by coverage of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

The collection of photos capture some of the diversity and vibrancy of Taiwanese democracy. The book shows how the place named Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall by the Chen Shui-bian administration reverted to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall under Ma Ying-jeou. This site of contest reflects the wider contest between green and blue in Taiwan politics. It also shows some of the purple through images of Falun Dafa (法輪大法), the annual LGBT Pride parade, anti-nuclear protests and the battle between the economy and the environment.

Two major events that seem to be missing from the book are the protests that erupted during the first visit of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin in December 2008 and Typhoon Morakot in August 2009. In many ways these events and their aftermath set the tone for the first term of Ma’s presidency.

Overall the book is a little short but it serves as a very useful introduction to Taiwan for the uninitiated. It highlights the diverse and colourful nature of Taiwan’s civil society as well as its polarisation. For me it is a nice souvenir as it covers much of the period I lived in Taiwan and I observed many of the events pictured in the book.

*For details about how to order the book see taiwanreporter’s website. It is available in ebook format for Apple devices or hard copy.

Music and No Nukes on Fulong Beach

Hohaiyan Music Festival on Fulong Beach

Yesterday I attended the first day of the 2011 Hohaiyan Music Festival (海洋音樂祭) at Fulong Beach. The festival, organised by the New Taipei City (formerly Taipei County) Government, has been running since 2000. The festival has two stages with the main stage on Fulong Beach. There are also food stalls and toilets set up on the beach and a huge staff to keep things running smoothly.

No Nukes group at Hohaiyan

When I arrived on the beach I saw members of the No Nukes group (諾怒客) handing out posters and talking to people. It is a reminder that just a few kilometres away from this beautiful beach the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is under construction.   Continue reading

Vintage Formosa featured on FTV News

FTV English News reportFormosa Television’s English-language news last night did a short feature on the Taiwan Pictures Digital Archive (aka Vintage Formosa or taipics.com). The report included an interview with Marc who collected the images and designed the site. It also juxtaposed some of the historical images with footage of present day Taipei. You can see the video of the report on the FTV website (embedded video may not be compatible with some browsers or operating sytems).

Taihoku Railway Station photo

Marc has put a huge amount of working into building up the archive of photos. The website currently hosts about 4,500 images. The site had just 1,000 images when we launched it in March 2008 and 3,200 photos when it was redesigned in July 2010. Please spend some time browsing through the site at taipics.com.

Erhu rock battle at Emerge Live House

Two erhu players on stage

Two bands featuring the erhu, a traditional Chinese two-stringed musical instrument, took to the stage of the Emerge Live House in Taichung last night. The Hsu-nami (海嘯樂團) came all the way from the USA and Sun Of Morning (晨曦光廊) are a Taiwanese band. Many music fans will already be familiar with Taiwanese metal band ChthoniC’s use of the erhu. These two bands add a new dimension to the genre of erhu rock.  Continue reading

Mega Port Festival rocks Kaohsiung

Mega Port Festival in Kaohsiung

The Mega Port Festival (大港開場) was held over the weekend of 5-6 March in Kaohsiung. The festival featured a few bands from Japan and the UK and some big name Taiwanese stars in Wu Bai and Jeannie Hsieh. However, it was largely a showcase of Taiwan’s best contemporary indie bands.

Mega Port by the harbour in Kaohsiung

Bands played on three stages spread out along the side of the harbour in the Pier 2 Arts District (駁二藝術特區). The close proximity to the Love River and the harbour gave the festival a unique maritime feel. Continue reading

Freak Out Beast in Da’an Park

Freak Out Beast's big stage in Da'an Park

The Freak Out Beast (吵年獸) music festival began in 2006. It is held in Taipei each year around the time of the Lunar New Year holiday, when there is usually a lack of live music events. I attended the festival for the last couple of years in Ximending. This year the event moved to Da’an Forest Park.

The amphitheatre in Da’an Park has a big stage where plenty of bands had the chance to strut their stuff. The weekend also had beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures. This was quite a contrast to the typical Lunar New Year weather in Taipei and the crowd enjoyed both the music and the sunshine. Continue reading