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press release :: In Case It Rains In Heaven | Photographs by Kurt Tong

Jen Bekman Gallery is pleased to present In Case it Rains in Heaven, sixteen photographs by Kurt tong. In Case it Rains in Heaven is Tong's first solo exhibition at the gallery.

An opening reception will be held on January 27th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. In Case It Rains In Heaven will be on view January 28th through March 4th, at Jen Bekman Gallery, located at 6 Spring Street, New York, New York.


Egyptian pharaohs entombed themselves with their riches, Chinese emperors were buried with effigies of their armies—but a Ferrari for the afterlife? In Case It Rains In Heaven documents 16 images of the curious Chinese modern-day practice of Joss paper offerings for the deceased. As Kurt Tong relates, in Chinese culture, many believe that the dead are unable to carry their possessions with them. It is therefore up to their ancestors and loved ones to properly equip them for the afterlife. The practice has evolved from simple "spirit money" offerings to modern day items ranging from bizarre to pragmatic and each painstakingly made of paper. An umbrella, sushi, a bird cage, a Ferrari and a snorkel set are just a few of the offerings Tong documented and later burnt in a ceremony for his ancestors. The practice of Joss paper offerings has been outlawed in China, yet the custom continues to be tolerated due to its deep roots in Chinese culture. The photographs in this exhibition are shot in front of a simple black backdrop, allowing the offerings to speak for themselves

 

Kurt Tong was originally trained as a health visitor at the University of Liverpool. He has worked and traveled extensively across Europe, the Americas and Asia. In 1999 Tong co-founded Prema Vasam, a charitable home for disabled and disadvantaged children in Chennai, South India.  He was the winner of the Luis Valtueña International Humanitarian Photography Award and the City of Port St. Elpidio Prize with his first picture story. He gained a Master’s in documentary photography at the London College of Communications in 2006. He has since been chosen as a winner in the first Lens Culture – Rhubarb Photo Book Award, the Hey, Hot Shot! competition and the prestigious Jerwood Photography Award.  Tong’s photographs have been widely exhibited around the world at numerous venues in New York, London, Madrid, Luxembourg and China.

 

In Case It Rains In Heaven is at Jen Bekman Gallery, 6 Spring Street, New York, New York.
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. or by private appointment.
For additional information and images, email press@jenbekman.com or phone 212.219.0166.