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Disrupted Tarot Deck

Using paper collage techniques on 4x6 watercolor paper, I reimagined the tarot to highlight and challenge the ideology and iconography of the traditional tarot deck. Aside from the Star, Moon, and Sun cards, I renamed, reinterpreted, and recreated all 78 cards.  


The use of tarot cards as cartomancy was first popularized in France in the late 18th century by a scholar of “primitive” wisdom, Antoine Court de Gébelin. Before that period, the cards circulated as a game or a medium for gambling. Gébelin claimed tarot cards revealed ancient Egyptian secrets that he set out to decipher and explain, yet today scholars have shown his claims on the cards’ origins to be unsubstantiated. He produced numerous volumes of his book Monde Primitif about the occult at a time when Europeans used discourses about “paganism” and a lack of “civilization” to legitimize the enslavement and colonization of Indigenous people in Africa and the Americas. 

Despite this history, tarot opens up a space of play and relationality. The heart of the ritual remains in the interpretation of the cards and the different levels of rewriting it invites. The tarot has been adapted time and again as a tool for crafting rituals and narratives, and sometimes to challenge dominant ideologies. The cards can offer ways to organize, archive and share knowledge, values, stories and projects. What’s more, the cards are arts object that enter daily life to be touched, gazed on, and pondered upon.  Tarot is at best an invitation to create meaning, rather than divination.

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