Fateful visions from traditional tarot cards literally come alive in the streets of Haiti in Alice Smeets’ photographic recreation of a full deck, the Ghetto Tarot. For the photo series, the Belgian photographer collaborated with the Haitian artist corps Atis Rezistans (resistant artists), staging tableaus to reinterpret the early 20th century Rider-Waite tarot deck. To honor the diverse talents of her subjects, Smeets scatters the artists' work throughout the scenes as props and backgrounds.
In creating the Ghetto Tarot, the photographer took the chance to continue her photographic work in Haiti, for which she was awarded the Unicef Photo of the Year Award in 2008 whilst pursuing her fascination with the spiritual world. “For a long time, I have wanted to interpret the tarot deck with my photos,” explains Smeets on the project's Indiegogo page, “but taking ordinary pictures of the scenes seemed too simple. My aim was to create a very personal deck without losing the different spirits of the cards.”
The Atis Rezistans proved the ideal partners for her concept, offering themselves, their art, and their homes as poignant symbols in the modern-day deck. Further, Smeets explains, by claiming the term "Ghetto," the artists “free themselves of its depreciating undertone and turn it into something beautiful." Smeets adds that, “this undertaking of the Haitians made me realize that it lies only within us to assign value or judgment towards a tangible or intangible thing, which creates a positive or negative emotion. If we realize that its a choice whether we look at destruction and see despair or to regard it as the start of something new, we can change the meaning of every word, action and sentiment.” Below, read your cards in the faces of the Ghetto Tarot: