Fuoco Sacro || Alice Smeets | The Ghetto Tarot

© Alice Smeets, Le Coppe
© Alice Smeets, Le Coppe

winner of the contest Fuoco Sacro
in collaboration with Gente di Fotografia magazine

The tarots represented by Haitian artists (Atis Rezistans) dig in the deep misery of ghettos and into all the negative impressions that this word still stirs up in (bad) contemporary consciousness, through images that have a strong emotional effect and a clear symbolism. Poor materials collected in the ghetto are the means used to claim, with the pride and courage revealed through their eyes, a cultural and inventive richness: the only resource that these people can use to escape from their difficult current condition and to avoid any extra self-pitying. The sense of memory, the contamination between culture and future perspectives are combined and confused in the “sacred fire” of these plays, blocked as if they were outside time. A strong charge of animist superstition makes these “sacred representations” very unorthodox, if not secular and openly pagan.
The vivid colours (typical of the Haitian tradition), and especially the blood red that floods in many shots, draw joy and violence, desperation and desire to live together, adding a rare efficacy to the representation. The images are presented in couples. On one side there is the representation of one of the 78 “Arcana”, invented by Arthur Edward Waite, an American mystic and esoteric, and designed by his disciple Pamela Colman Smith; and on the other side, there is the reinterpretation conceived in the ghetto: actually, Smeets’ snapshots have a proper independent and intact “compositional” and “communicative” strength, that would not need any confrontation to support the participatory power and the psychological inspiration that come from figures. 


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