josspaper1sm

assemblage & photo series

artist statement

I like to burn things. Different pages burn differently. Passport pages are unique in how they burn— slow, without curling, retaining their strength. For a business traveler, it is loaded with meaning and I already had several loaded with stamps. The work encapsulates the fundamental tensions between my love to explore, my career responsibilities and how narrowly this document defines me.

In parts of SE Asia, largely the boundaries of my travel in this passport, burning real money is considered quite unlucky. Derived from a mix of Taoism, Buddhism and regional folklore, the ritual of burning paper money (“joss paper”) is believed to equate to making deposits in an afterlife bank account. The cultural practice has evolved to burning elaborate constructs of houses, cars and other material possessions in effort to fill an emotional role in the grieving process— helping to make a loved-one’s afterlife more comfortable.

Note: This work has only been exhibited as a photo series due to the level of animosity the assemblage piece evokes. When faced with a brown-skinned person burning a Canadian passport (albeit an expired one), the work seems to stoke assumptions of contemporary religious geo-politics and pro-nationalist sentiment.

exhibition

05.2009 / CONTACT Photography Festival / Launch Projects Gallery, Toronto / photo-series

publication

07.2009 / ‘Freedom’ issue / Platform58 (UK-based art e-zine)