Durational intervention, Liverpool, November 2011, part of Present in Public at the Bluecoat (www.givingintogift.org).
A hungry ghost in a white duvet cover offers a potlatch of free gifts made in China to Victorian sin-eaters: a gift from Bataille buys you time, or choose a violent death with Baudrillard.
“When you went to the funeral you always got a funeral biscuit wrapped in paper. I know a little girl died. Our Tom said, ‘Will we be going to the tea party and getting a biscuit?’ He was only thinking about the biscuit.” – E. Roberts (on pre-war rural customs), The Lancashire Way of Death.
“When someone died in those days [in Chinatown] they used to give out sweets. But as kids, you know, someone would say ‘Someone’s died’, and we’d all go just to get sweets. I remember going knocking at the door, ‘I’ve come to see the corpse’”. – M.L. Wong, Chinese Liverpudlians.
“Liverpool’s relationship with China is based on power, journeys and exchange.” – Museum of Liverpool, ‘Global City’ display.
This piece explored the equivocal feelings of receiving a gift and the power relationship between giver and receiver in both intimate and corporate settings: an unsettling encounter centred on gift-customs associated with death, in the complex social context of Liverpool’s past and present.
Photographs by Mark Loudon.