Paper for the afterlife

Although carefully crafted paper artworks are more commonly associated with Japan, across the water in China there is also a custom for creating precious paper objects.

In China, it is thought that when a person dies, they leave with the earth without any earthly possessions and so relatives often furnish their deceased loved ones with paper money and objects which are burnt as offerings during a funeral.

Gun, Kurt Tong
Gun, Kurt Tong

Rollerskates, Kurt Tong
Rollerskates, Kurt Tong

Photographer Kurt Tong’s latest exhibition, which opens on 12 May at London’s Kemistry Gallery, charts how these paper objects are changing with the growth of capitalism. Louis Vuitton bags, iPods, even Viagra, have been crafted out of paper in order to give the deceased a similar lifestyle in heaven as the one they were accustomed to on this earth.

Louis Vuitton Bag, Kurt Tong
Louis Vuitton Bag, Kurt Tong

Tong, who was awarded the Jerwood Photography Prize in 2008, has captured these unusual objects with just a simple black background, giving them a serene, otherworldly aura.

Bird cage, Kurt Tong
Bird cage, Kurt Tong

Safe, Kurt Tong
Safe, Kurt Tong

In case it rains in heaven runs from 12 – 30 May at Kemistry Gallery, 43 Charlotte Road, London EC2A.

Latest articles