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Erenlai - Hubert Kilian (余白)
Hubert Kilian (余白)

Hubert Kilian (余白)

Journalist at "Taiwan Aujourd'hui", living in Taipei since 6 years. Photography is a way to pursue an unspeakable reality, to catch a “sub-reality”, to express strong feelings linked to lights and atmospheres shaped by the city. I like to raise the questions about the bonds between people, their everyday life and the city surrounding them. Humans are building cities but cities are shaping their life. Taipei, a metropolis where density is one of the highest in the world, is an excellent example about how a city can determine people’s everyday lives. Photography is a way to express this relationship between urbanity and people, their environment and the way they are interacting.

Taiwan Aujourd'hui 記者,台北居住了四年。

Monday, 23 December 2013 14:17

The "Minuit" Sonata

Photographer and journalist Hubert Kilian shares his experiences documenting the side of Taipei behind the glitz and the glamour in black and white, a side of Taipei that is often forgotten.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 14:11

Last Fight, Last Hope

After capturing and presenting the atmosphere at night in the Huaguang community - one of the last mainlanders village left in central Taipei-, here are the voices and faces of its last residents. This old community retains the mood and traditions of old Times. Its inhabitants, civil servants from the ministry of Justice, mainlanders' families and others Taiwanese, have been living here for more than 50 years. By the end of 2012, this community will be demolished to give way to a financial center called "Taipei Wall Street". The residents are claiming for Justice and decent solutions.

Monday, 30 April 2012 11:04

A World Falling Apart

The Huaguang community (華光社區) is one of the last mainlander villages left in central Taipei. This old community retains the mood and traditions of old times. Its inhabitants, civil servants from the Ministry of Justice, mainlander families and others Taiwanese, have been living here for more than 50 years. By the end of 2012, this community will be demolished to give way to a financial centre called "Taipei Wall Street". Inhabitants are calling for justice and decent relocation solutions. Through this documentary, a collection of nocturnal colors photography, the presence of the inhabitants is suggested but not shown outright, their anger and frustration is just acknowledged but not emphasized. The wall and windows, the alleys and the vegetation, where you can feel the sweat of their existence, are all photographed by night to underlie the unreal mood that will follow the demolition. No digital retouchings have been made to the photos; all shot with a Kodak Ektar Chrome 100.


Tuesday, 03 May 2011 18:55

The Beauty of Decay

Hubert has been living in Taipei for seven years. Every week, he spends in average six hours to stride along the streets of the city looking for the perfect snapshot which will yield the atmosphere that he feels and perceives himself. He is also a long time contributor of eRenlai where he has already published several photos. Here, he explains us why Taipei attracts him so deeply while showing us the hidden beauty of the city.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 14:59

Snapshots of campuses in Taipei

These photos from Hubert Kilian capture the cadence of campus life in Taipei.  For many students class is of primary importance at university.  However the moments between classes can be just as enriching. Walking, chatting, day-dreaming, sleeping, sharing, cuddling or stressing.  These are often the memories that stay with us into the future.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009 04:03

Taiwan, Twenty Five Years From Now

In twenty-five years, I will arrive in Taipei by United Airlines – a Chinese airline company, which will directly connect Ningbo to Taipei. Customs will have taken only the necessary three minutes to read the electronic passport formatted the size of a bank card. To be able to enter a state member of the Confederation of the Chinese States (CCS) from another one of the territories, the procedure will have become extremely simple; it will no longer be required to make a record of one’s iris colour by a digital camera connected to the federal database. I will pass quickly to the self-service check-in machine to enter my luggage code, select a destination and a means of transport. I will gently brush the “subway” button and choose the central station that is located under the old Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.

I will let the silent and rapid escalator carry me towards a quay of a green fitted carpet where there will be magnetic levitation trains. Twenty-three minutes later, I will reach the heart of the metropolis’ historical districts, whose arteries are suspended on top of the urban sea, stretching to the residential zones of Taichung, today a district of the capital. The long tube of glass, buried half underground, will meander at a speed of 280 km/h, along the avenues and between the towers of the business districts whom will have invaded the old industrial parks and the countryside. With a vision at ground-level, in the muffled surroundings of the train’s belly, I will see the top of skyscrapers which will appear distinctly detached from the azure of the sky. Sometimes, one will be plunged into half darkness while the trajectory penetrates speedily into the carefully protected forest zones. This will last several minutes and one will imagine the iridescent freshness and the invigorating scents of a nature that is difficult to access. The conurbation of Taipei will extend then from the port of Keelung to Taichung. There will be a concentration of the largest pharmaceutical laboratories of the world, the florets of Asian biotechnologies and the research centres and development of the electronic world. 29 million inhabitants will mass around this nerve centre of the networks globalised by production, connected by an underwater motorway to the world capital of finance on the mainland, Zhuhai.
Beyond Taichung, down further south, time will seem to have gone into reverse. One will not venture there and the broad band of steppes will separate the two worlds.


With the progressive departure of the companies, the State will have gone bankrupt and with it the institutions will have sunk. The big harbour of Kaohsiung City, a formerly compulsory stop for the container boats that used to cross oceans, will have been emptied of its life force. Nature will have regained its lost ground and the aboriginal tribes will have taken again their rights, reconstituting the autonomous communities of the origins. Only the peasants attached to the ground of their ancestors will have remained and will live in good agreement with the Atayals and the Bununs. Far from the high-rise office buildings, the south of the island, savage, will resemble an immense industrial waste land, beaten by the winds, and travelled by the hunters of the tribes, drunk with independence and freedom.

In the north, I will be bored with the unravelling of this succession, repeated ad infinitum, of urban centres, office districts, residential zones, complexes dedicated to spirituality and “preserved nature zones”. Downsized to a surface of 10.000 square kilometres, the State will have lost all its authority due to its incapacity to face the challenges of the rising water level, disordered ecosystems and a problematic human density. The usual technocratic demagogues and powerful populist orators in business suits will have failed to stop the fall of rate of participation in the electoral polls. Sick and tired, people will have ended up with a degenerated plutocracy and an enlightened theocracy dedicated to the durable governorship which will have been put in place with general indifference. The Venerable Shen Master will be the head of the management of general interest unit, supported by the 29 million responsible citizens at the service of the public interest, both spiritually and environmentally. The armed forces will have been dismantled and the recalcitrant generals will have taken refuge in the lawless area of the great south where they will be at war with the aboriginal tribes. The State of Taiwan, associated with the Confederation of the Chinese States, will have become a neutral and international zone, exempted from tax. Consequently, whoever wishes to conquer it by the means of military coercion would put the world economy in danger.


When I arrive in the centre of Taipei, on the quays of the Central station which will be spread out under the esplanade of memorial CKS, I will rediscover this island, that was once familiar to me. I will go up to the surface of the Central Station by the means of a silent and speedy lift and discover a new world. The esplanade of the memorial hall will have been transformed into a gigantic park extending well beyond the old Presidential Palace. The Ketagalan Boulevard will be nothing more than rose trees and flowerbeds of geraniums. The unattractive architecture of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emblematic of the ancient authoritative regime would have been demolished.

There traffic will be reduced to only public vehicles running on gasoline recycled from cane sugar, that zigzag across the pedestrian zones. I will need to walk through a compact crowd of smiling people to reach the river banks of Tamshui… It will be a good walk in the fresh air, a time to imagine Taiwan twenty-five years ago.

Translated from French by Alice Lin - Photos by Hubert Kilian

Read the original version of the story in French

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Tuesday, 26 February 2008 19:04

My baby, my responsibility

When I first learnt that I was going to be a father, I didn’t really figure out all the implications. I just got the deep feeling that it was the start of something totally new, totally different, the beginning of a long process that would change everything. I felt I would change too, smoothly but definitely. A peaceful wave of joy in my heart was giving me a new strength in facing that situation. But also more realistic thoughts came in my mind later, like cost, convenience, freedom, future…

What made me really realize my fatherhood for the first time is the moment I saw him on the screen of the ultrasound scan. Usually, the doctor will let you hear your baby heartbeats by increasing the sound’ level of the machine. At that time, I truly understood that he was already alive, hearing his heart beating strong and trying to guess the whereabouts of his head, body etc...It was an intense experience and It was impossible to ignore the very concrete fact anymore.

Still, I’m not sure how being a father would affect me. It’s always difficult to judge one-self and to clearly understand any change happening. I think I started a subtle evolution in terms of attitude toward a lot of issues, concepts and life difficulties. Thinking will maybe become more assertive because of the new responsibility of being a father, but basically, the main change dwells in the way you will face life. To be a father will drive you toward more balanced and positive feeling. You’re not alone anymore, so you are no longer willing to put yourself at risk as if it was only you alone. Difference resides in the fact that someone who’s helpless to survive needs you and that it’s your responsibility to assure his survival and growth. And it’s your own son. Facing that responsibly, you will start to focus on his needs; you will try to give him the best and will slightly forget for a while your own needs, frustration, failures and eagerness for achievement and success. I’ve read somewhere something that deeply impressed me: "when a baby was born, he needs enough love to convince himself to stay alive". I think that describes the situation well.

Furthermore, I believe in the equality of both parents in their responsibilities. I don’t believe that the one who sacrifices more for the education of the baby must be the mother while the father is free from that. In our globalized world where traditional values are increasingly challenged by modern ways of life, economics and environmental pressures, flexibility is the key to balance and to share responsibilities to maximize family resources and comfort. There’s no rigid scheme anymore about how parents should share responsibilities and assume predefined roles.

Monday, 30 April 2007 09:08

Seeing Taipei from the crossroads

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Here is a collection of pictures by Hubert, who captures the atmosphere of Taiwan ‘s capital, working mainly in blank and white.

Crossroads’ zebras design the rhythm of a metropolis, creating continuities and breaks, allowing one to go from one space to another through a series of contrasts and transformations. In a city of 3 million inhabitants, crossroads appear no more like some meeting points but are some line-ruled paths with no ending. The only limits they seem to encounter are the surrounding buildings: they stand at the extremity of the road, lonely as the passer-by. Some will prefer to cut the crossing like this old lady, little dark figure disquieting the severe geometry of the white lines. But where is going that old man sunk in his meditation, under a dazzling sun? And these two girls holding each other by the waist? May their secret lie in the thin space between their two silhouettes?

Hubert’s pictures make us feel the pulse of a city when solitude and communication endlessly change into one another.


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