Art Uncovered -- Kurt Tong

Premiere DateFeb 14, 2012
00:00 Intro
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02:13 Kurt Tong Interview pt. 1
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04:31 Some of These Days Andrew Bird
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06:33 Kurt Tong Interview pt. 2
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10:13 December Teenage Fanclub
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12:30 Kurt Tong Interview pt. 3
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16:53 Lovelier Girl Beach House
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19:34 Kurt Tong Interview pt. 4
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20:57 For the Trees Matmos
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23:34 Kurt Tong Interview pt. 5
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27:14 Seems to Be The Shop Assistants
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29:29 Kurt Tong Interview pt. 6
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34:32 Nutricia Yo La Tengo
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38:18 Finish
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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.

Host Thomas
Thomas grew up in Northern California where he fell in love with music and photography while going to punk shows and shooting skate photos. He photography in college, which may or may not qualify him to host an…

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