It’s colorful, it’s provocative, it's avant-garde, it’s stunning: It's The Ghetto Tarot! The Ghetto Tarot is a photographic interpretation of the traditional tarot deck in the ghetto. The scenes are inspired by the Rider Waite Tarot deck (originally designed in 1909 by artist Pamela Colman Smith) and are replicated together with a group of Haitian artists called Atis Rezistans (resistant artists) in the Haitian slums using only material we were able to find or create locally.
While the cards were designed many years ago with the situations of the time when the world was very different, they resonate today with timeless symbols that can be applied to our busy modern world. And not just our modern, western world, but also to any other continent, country or culture, including the Haitian Ghetto. So here comes a temporary, provocative and vivid tarot deck!
On several cards we used the artists art, that includes symbolism from the Voodoo religion to embody the important meaning of the cards original symbols.
Alice Smeets is a Belgian photographer, filmmaker, artist and teacher. Her documentary photographs from Haiti are fairly well known and have won me several awards including the Unicef Photo of the Year Award 2008.
For a long time, she has wanted to interpret the Tarot Deck with my photos, but taking ordinary pictures of the scenes seemed too simple. Her aim was to create a very personal deck without loosing the different spirits of the cards. Then the idea entered my mind to combine three of her 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.