These images are from an amazing tarot project called The Ghetto Tarot, which aims to highlight poverty in the Haitian Ghetto - but also to showcase the artistic talent of people living there. Photographer Alice Smeets is raising money through crowdfunding to complete the project. Here is a press release she sent me about the deck and at the bottom is a link to the crowdfunding page:
The Ghetto Tarot is a photographic interpretation of the traditional tarot deck in the ghetto. The scenes are inspired by the very ancient, European Rider Waite Tarot deck 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.Here is the link to the crowdfunding campaign: http://igg.me/at/ghettotarot/x/162441
While the cards were designed hundreds of years ago with the situations of the time when the world was young, 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!
Our idea behind choosing the term "Ghetto" as a name for the deck, is to provoke a discussion around the topic, to have people question their own assumptions about what the ghetto really is and to change the often negative connotation that the word implies in our culture into a positive one. The name of the Ghetto Tarot is inspired by the "Ghetto Biennale", which is an invitation by Atis Rezistans to visiting Western and non-Western artists to come to Haiti and create art in collaboration with them to produce a show at the end. Atis Rezistans use trash to create art with their own visions that are a reflection of the beauty they see hidden within the waste.
Our intention is not a glorification of the life in the Ghetto, but to feature the Haitian Ghetto and poverty in general in another light. I have observed over and over again that those, who the world calls "the poor", are full of strength, full of life, joy and creativity. I believe we need more people in this world to start looking at them that way and stop seeing them as victims of a deserted and hopeless situation. A desirable consequence of this imagined situation is a reintegration of the lost self-trust into their own original ideas.
Our objective is to highlight the creativity and strength of the citizens of the Ghetto and we are certain that inside of them lays a treasure of innovative ideas to dissolve the circle of dependence and victimisation, that will break through if the world starts looking at their skills and capacities instead of their deficiencies. That plays an important part of the objective behind the photographies of the "Ghetto Tarot": reaching beyond cultural walls of prejudice and ignorance to achieve a much needed transformation of the collective conscience perception of the Ghetto.
Atis rezistans are claiming the word “Ghetto”, free themselves of its depreciating undertone and turn it into something beautiful. Their act of appropriating a word loaded with unfavourable sentiments by altering its meaning is an act of inspiration. This undertaking of the Haitians made me realise that it lies only within us to assign value or judgement towards a tangible or intangible thing, which creates a positive or negative emotion. If we realise that we can choose if we look at destruction and see despair or if we choose to see the start of something new, we can change the meaning of every word, action and emotion. That is something I learnt from the Haitian artists and we are sharing it together with the world through the Ghetto Tarot.
And isn’t the confrontation of our inner feelings and emotions what tarot is all about?