Kurt Tong

November 5, 2010

I know Kurt Tong’s from his People’s Park project, which I saw 2 years ago during the Jerwood Photo Prize exhibition in London. He had then finished the same MA in Documentary Photography at the LCC in London as I did last year.

Last week I came across his work again and I was amazed to see on how many new interesting projects he has worked on ever since. I really like all of them a lot. ‘In case it Rains in Heaven‘ will be published soon by Kehrer. “The project is a series of photographs of items made of joss paper to be burned as offerings for the dead. Traditionally, many Chinese believe that when a person dies, he leaves with no earthly possessions and it’s up to his descendants to provide for him in the afterlife until his reincarnation. Originally, coins and animals were buried with the dead, but when that proved too expensive for commoners, they began burning joss paper decorated with seals, stamps, silver or gold paint, as offerings to the spirits to ensure they lived well in the afterlife. In the last 50 years, these offerings have become more and more elaborate as objects are molded from the paper, some reflecting traditional culture, but many reflecting the consumer culture which is taking over China. Cars, washing machines and MacDonalds meals are made out of the paper, and entire shops have been set up selling an array of joss paper products.”

In case it Rains in Heaven‘ is for me interesting because I have never heard of these paper offerings. But I especially like it a lot because of Tong’s approach to document the Westernization of China by just photographing objects.

© Kurt Tong

© Kurt Tong

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