What if branded goods were no longer just for the living, but also for the dead? In traditional Chinese culture, families venerate their ancestors by burning offerings of “ghost money” and paper replicas of objects needed in the afterlife. At the same time, China is the global manufacturing center for luxury knock-off goods; It was only a matter of time before this marketplace started selling products meant to be “consumed” by the dead. The afterlife market has become so popular, in fact, that Gucci and Prada’s lawyers have issued cease and desist orders to Chinese shops making these replicas.
With “Best Deal in Heaven,” Chan examines a world in which our spiritual practices must struggle to coexist with a consumer-driven economy. She creates her own hand-made paper replicas of branded goods, and films a video in which she burns them as sincere offerings to my Chinese ancestors.
What is the true value of a branded good? Do luxury items retain their status in the afterlife? Who has the right to own branded objects? Can burning an object qualify as an economic transaction? Where does capitalism end and our spiritual reality begin? Is the afterlife an untapped consumer market? And finally, who gets to decide what we worship?
"Sending You the Very Best" was exhibited in Root Division's "Bizarre Bazaar" group exhibition, curated by Michael Arcega.