My guest this week, London-based photographer Kurt Tong, has been documenting the modern day Chinese tradition of burning Joss paper offerings to the dead. Kurt explains that, “many Chinese believe that when a person dies he leaves with no earthly possessions.” It’s therefore up to relatives to provide the material objects the deceased will need in the afterlife.
Sounds simple enough, but over the last 50 years, increasingly elaborate, and bizarre, items have been made out of paper for the dead. For example, Kurt has photographed Ferrarri’s, McDonald’s meals, machine guns, wheelchairs and iPods all made out of paper. In 2006, it was even reported that paper prostitutes, Viagra, condoms, ecstasy and gambling equipment were found outside of cemeteries.
In a new exhibition called In Case it Rains in Heaven, which is up now at Jen Beckman Gallery in New York, Kurt exhibits sixteen photographs of these Joss paper offerings, ranging from the practical to the absurd. I spoke with Kurt recently over the phone about his project and the ways that modern Joss Paper offerings in China have come to reflect the country’s move toward capitalism.
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Joyful Noise Recordings is an Indianapolis-based eclectic indie label begun in 2003 by Karl Hofstetter. In this episode, we'll hear a ton of great music from the label's releases, along with an interview with Karl where we cover the label's beginnings, the importance of physical art objects, and how… | listen