Wolfgang Scheppe, Totengeld, Singapur, vor 1936
© SKD, Foto: Wolfgang Scheppe

Supermarket of the Dead. Proposition III

Fire offerings in China and the Cult of Globalised Consumption

One of the most ancient forms of Chinese spirituality proves to be a living tradition, still widely practised everywhere in Chinese culture. Paper replicas of money and goods are ritually burned as offerings to win the favour of ancestors, gods and spirits. These paper models have recently undergone a kind of transformation, in which imi-tations of traditional objects have been superseded by replicas of consumer goods found in western shopping habits. An alter-native world made of paper, encompassing all today’s globalised brand consumption fetishes, Gucci bags, Prada shoes, mobile phones, Apple computers and even Heineken beer cans and life-size cars, is committed to the flames as a tribute to the ancestors.

  • DATES 14/03/2015—14/06/2015

[Translate to English:] Film

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Supermarket of the Dead
Supermarket of the Dead


A Supermarket of the Dead installed on the Reception Floor of the Dresden Residenzschloss displays a mountain of these strangely familiar yet somehow alien goods. This gives rise to significant insights: it reveals the compulsive effects worldwide of the West’s worship of brand names and designer labels. The speed with which Chinese society has aligned itself with a global system of needs can be discerned and linked to a cult which is almost two thousand years old.

gebündelte goldene und silberne Stoffe
© SKD, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Scheinwerte Gold und Silber, gebündelt, China, 1904 Papier, Metallfolie, partiell bemalt


One becomes aware too of the quasi-religious fetishism inherent in the consumption of branded products, whose benefits for the consumer lie not in their use but in participation in a system of meanings – and hence a theurgic relationship. Burnt offerings and brand status are united by the logic of representational magic, in which purposes are fulfilled vicariously through the image.

[Translate to English:] Publikation

[Translate to English:] text5

The project has been made possible by the support of the Museum & Research Foundation.


media partner: monopol

[Translate to English:] weitere

Further Exhibitions
26/04/2014 —24/08/2014
Ausstellungsansicht „Die Dinge des Lebens / Das Leben der Ding" mit aufgereihten Tongefäßen
30/11/2014 —22/03/2015

Logical Rain. Proposition II

in Japanisches Palais

eine Färbeschablone für Kimonos
14/03/2015 —14/06/2015
13/05/2016 —07/08/2016

Surveying the Non-human. Proposition IV

in Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau

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