Burning is an exploration of memory as I create and burn books made of Chinese incense paper, critiquing ritual and belief, and the relationship that binds them.


In 2023, I moved to New York after having lived in Hong Kong for nearly a decade. Every now and then, I would burn the paper books that I made. Each book would go up in flames and disappear into thin air, allowing me to relive the memory of the first book I burned. Over time, this act of burning books turned into a ritual for me to remember.

Rituals bridge the present to thousands of years in the past, creating new meaning as they are passed from one generation to another. In Western cultures, burning is often associated with purification and removal of impurities, while in Eastern traditions, it takes on the form of remembrance. The act of burning incense papers follows the ancient Chinese belief that representations of the physical world made of incense paper are transferred to the deceased in the afterlife when set aflame. However, what used to be a ritual of offering has evolved into an expression of love for those who have passed away. They have become a way to remember and be remembered, forging connections between present generations with generations of the past. The meaning and intention behind these rituals are constantly being re-invented, transforming traditional acts of filial piety and mythology into broader themes of remembrance.

Beyond the design and construction of each book, each act of burning in this project acquires meaning over time, giving rise to new rituals with its own purpose and intentions. The relationship between ritual and belief is challenged, evolving together or drifting far apart.

I will only know what this rite will become in the end, unlocking new revelations one book at a time. As each paper leaf vanishes into thin air, new meanings are materialised.

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