12" x 18" edition of 3, unframed $150
kisser, 2018, vancouver
Every year in the first week of April, my family and all of my dad’s side gather and perform ancestral rites for the Qingmeng festival at my great grandfather’s grave at Ocean View Funeral Home. I've ruminated every time I was there about how much my great grandpa struggled to make ends meet just to send money to his family continents away working as a butcher in Chinatown, and how trivial my own worries are in this decade where people can make a living off vlogging about their manicured everyday lives. My grandpa is there now too after a bout of COVID. We burn joss paper and send offerings to the afterlife in the hopes that they'll know they're taken care of in death. I always thought it was a bit ridiculous—if you look up the practice, you’ll find that people burn paper cutouts of servants, Lamborghinis, and model houses so that their ancestors can live lavishly. A nice gesture, though.
The sun was bright, yet there were those typical, ominously Vancouver dark clouds. I took this photo a couple of rows away from the offering site and was immediately scolded by my grandma for possibly inflicting bad fortune upon myself. But I thought the sentiment and the arrangement was beautiful. At that point, I had never had to be part of a funeral procession.
We give flowers after someone performs on stage. Valentine's day. Mother’s day. Weddings, anniversaries. Funerals are the only time where the recipients don't get to see or smell the flowers. And that’s when I think people get them the most. My grandpa was a principal at the village school in China and, interestingly enough, most of his students ended up immigrating here. He had around 60 arrangements at his wake, and since then I’ve often wondered how many people I’ve left an impression on and how many flowers I’d receive. I hope Kisser and whoever else was buried next to them has visitors to leave them offerings.