Flagrances of the past

In Taipei, there was a time when the splendor of Chongqing South Road section I [重慶 南路] was shining beyond the seas of the Taiwan Strait.

Before 1945, during the Japanese era, Chongqing South Rd. was located in the district of Sakaichō [榮 町] and was well-known for its tea houses, department stores and the aesthetics of its several public buildings. After 1945, the area turned itself into a bookstore district. Successful publishing houses and numerous bookshops lined the bloated and noisy artery with disjointed architecture and literally gave shape to the concept of Free China. It soon became the anchor of a culture in exile.

Chongqing South Rd. and neighborhood unfurled a breath of literature and an intellectual climate which caught the attention of all overseas Chinese. Traditional ideograms, high-culture and classical scholars style were preserved and promoted. Clients and buyers were coming from all over the Chinese-spoken world to find the translation of works whose edition has been banned on the other side of the Strait, crushed by its revolution.

Vaguely legendary coffee shops frequented by some forgotten artists and idle gentlemen, rich wives and pretentious erudite, were giving shape to the activity of this old district, stuck on the north side by Zhonghsiao West Rd. [忠孝西路] and the dusty Central Station, by Gongyuan Rd. [公園 路] on the east side, and limited by the old Taipei New Park (now 228 Peace memorial Park) and the secular Presidential Palace on the south side.

In 1978, with the reforms occurring on the mainland as a direct result of the soluble nature of ideology into the capital, Chongqing South Rd started to lost its primacy. Its prominent and teeming clients slowly faded away while the vibrant atmosphere declined and trade was sluggish. Today, books business is all gone but the avenue is still haunted by the smell of the past. Between two beauty salons and some outdated establishments who are displaying on their front their foundation year in a tacky style, the smell of the picturesque past can still be felt. Soon, that vanished era will be left with nothing but sparkling office towers standing up in the sun of red money.

Project done in between 2010 and 2015 with Kodak TriX-400