The Ghetto Tarot
Alice Smeets replicates tarot cards in real life
Belgian photographer Alice Smeets’s “the ghetto tarot” project is a photographic interpretation of the traditional tarot card art, replicated with a group of artists called “atis rezistans” in the slums of Port-au-prince, Haiti. Since the late 18th century, tarot cards have been used as a pathway to mental and spiritual answers. Its metaphorical and literal illustrations represent a vivid emotion that is interpreted by the fortune teller or mystics. Artist Pamela Colman Smith’s 1909 design of the rider-waite deck is one of the best known designs for the tarot especially for its depictions of supernatural scenes. Smeet’s series is inspired by Smith’s designs, and her re-creations bring both the visual and emotional aspect of Smith’s illustrations to life. Using the backdrop of Haiti, as well as locally sourced materials, she incorporated members of the “atis rezistans” movement into scenes from the tarot cards. She also included symbolism from the voodoo religion to add to the meaning of the cards’ original motifs. Her series brings the spirit of the cards to reality, as well as introduces interesting layers about the spiritual world by setting them in an exotic new context.
” My aim was to create a very personal deck without loosing the different spirits of the cards’, Smeet says. ‘”then the idea entered my mind to combine three of my passions: the spiritual world, the haitian culture and people as well as the philosophical reflections about the dualities in our world; in this case rich and poor. moving away from the clichéd images of poverty, illustrating the spirits and meanings of the cards with a touch of humor in the middle of the slum and showing colored people for the first time on the traditional, old European cards to break stereotypes.’
Visit Alice Smeet’s Website here.