Tarot cards have been around since the 15th century, and art photographer Ayla El-Moussa thinks it's high time they were refitted for a more contemporary audience. Using the traditional Rider Waite deck as a model, El-Moussa "re-interprets" each card through her sleek lens. To create the ongoing series, The Tarot, the artist spends around two weeks studying each symbol and meaning on a particular card. Then, using new models and contemporary garb, she recreates it in her studio.
El-Moussa is one half of 25th Century, a digital media house best known for serene video portraits and abstract photography. The artist says the process for each photoshoot is very systematic and goes hand in hand with the major moon phases that occur every two weeks; the new moon and the full moon. Astrologically a Cancer, El-Moussa says she is ruled by water and thus has a direct connection with the moon. For this reason, she feels that it is only right to release each new card in accordance with the moon cycle. The artist tells The Creators Project, “I hope to discover the world and myself through the symbology, and divine messages within the cards.”
A traditional tarot card deck is made up 78 individual cards that are divided into two categories, major and minor arcana. The first 22 cards belong to the former and represent the “mysteries and secrets of the universe,” according to the artist. These are the more complex cards in the deck and therefore require the most knowledge and practice to decipher. The remaining 56 cards in the minor group are broken up into four suits: the Wands, the Pentacles, the Swords and the Cups. Each suit corresponds to natural elements like Fire, Earth, Air, and Water, which can be interpreted to divulge aspects of life as people live it. The artist tells The Creators Project, “What is so special about the tarot is that it asks the individual to look at questions of life from a different perspective and take into consideration the significance of each symbol enclosed within the deck. They (the cards) confront inner issues that run deep below the surface, issues that are secretly shaping the course of our lives.”
El-Moussa says she started studying the tarot roughly three months ago. Shortly after turning 25, El-Moussa decided to immerse herself in the ancient world of mystical knowledge in hopes of finding deeper clarity in her life. She says that the process of reinterpreting the cards has in a way forced her own kind of self-reflection. “As a photographer I wanted a way to visually document my journey so that when it is all complete I will be able to look back and see how I have evolved and grown both mentally, emotionally and creatively,” she says.
Learn more about The Tarot on the 25th Century website.