Tarot is art, right?
At the very least, a deck of tarot cards is a series of 78 artworks which you can hold in your hands. So it’s exciting when people take hold of tarot and see what they can do with it – how can they push the boundaries of the medium, how can they engage people in the concepts underlying those cards in different ways.
US artists Anne Staveley and Jill Sutherland of LIVINLARGE PHOTO are in the midst of creating a really exciting, ambitious (and huge!) tarot artwork: Wheel of Fortune. As a portrait photography duo who regularly create surreal images on a massive scale – street art murals, multimedia installations – Staveley and Sutherland say “we are believers in the power of images to start conversations of change.”
Physically, Wheel of Fortune is a giant wheel, constructed from doors, each bearing a tarot card. You can enter the wheel, and then find yourself in a circular room, surrounded by these powerful, mystical images – the idea is that this provides you with a space for self-reflection via the energies of the archetypes around you.
Wheel of Fortune is currently in Nevada, as part of the Burning Man festival. A new tarot deck, naturally, has also been created and is to be launched next weekend (and it’s a real stunner – as a practical tarot deck, as a tool of self-reflection, and as a work of art in its own right.)
A new website will be going live next week on the 13th November (if you’re subscribed to my newsletter I’ll remind you to take a peek!) – in the meantime you can explore Staveley and Sutherland’s work at livinlargephoto.com
To explore this artwork – and the tarot deck – further, I asked the artists a few questions about their creation.
Can you explain what the purpose of the installation is? Why did you decide to build a giant interactive wheel of tarot cards in the desert?
The idea for the project began with us deciding on doing a photographic series on the tarot. We decided on multiple exposure photographs as a means of capturing the concept of self-reflection embodied in the tarot. We consulted with oracles and card readers and dove into the mystery and meaning of the Hero’s Journey, and so Wheel of Fortune was born from researching the history, symbolism, and deep meaning of the tarot. We believe that each of these images symbolizes the universal aspect of the human experience.
The shape of the installation came to us about a third of the way through our photoshoots. We knew we wanted to display the images in a wildly unique, LIVINLARGE format. The installation would be a ring of doors – a literal wheel of discovery.
Our intention behind Wheel of Fortune is to open hearts and minds in a divine refuge for reflection for the thousands of travellers to come across the installation and to interact with the images and the deck.
Were you already interested in tarot cards and that inspired the project, or did the tarot emerge from an different starting point?
Inspired by women’s wisdom the tarot resonated with us and demanded we learn more! It holds so much mystery and magic in the symbolism. According to The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn “The most powerful sources of information come from within; as we know the Tarot aids in coming in contact with one’s Higher Self.
Tell me a little about the deck creation process
Anne is based in Santa Fe and Jill is based in Los Angeles. The models are located around the country; all of them are close personal friends of Jill and Anne. Each model embodies the spirit of the card they represent, and brought life and symbolism to the photoshoot. Intentional props and locations was part of the shoot experience.
We are inspired by ethereal beauty and storytelling. Intuition drives our photoshoots, and we work with the subjects so that their true self is reflected in the images captured.
There was no digital manipulation done in these images. They were all shot as multiple exposure photographs.
Can you pick your favourite card from the deck and describe what’s going on, the inspiration, what it means to you?
It’s totally impossible to pick a favorite card! We both discover new favorites throughout the whole deck as the experience of the project continues to unfold. They all have their own unique time and place and gather more meaning and depth as we continue to interact with the cards and with Wheel of Fortune participants….
So how do you find the deck for reading – what are its special strengths as a tarot deck?
Our oracle, Ceci Castelblanco, has nearly two decades of experience working with the tarot. Not only did she model for the Universe card, she helped us choose which images best reflected the symbolism of each card and she wrote the guidebook.
The multiple exposure images are of all female models.. This deck taps into ancient wisdom and shares the symbolism in a way that is accessible in the modern world. Each card comes with a guiding principle, the meaning of the card, questions to guide self-reflection, and an affirmation. The Wheel of Fortune deck is not merely a divination tool. It a powerful resource for personal reflection.
Finally, what will happen to the installation after Burning Man?
We are planning on taking Wheel of Fortune on the road to other festivals over the next couple of years. We also hope to show the series of photographs in gallery exhibits, and do more large-scale murals from this photo series.
If you’d like to know more about this project, visit wheeloffortune-tarot.com (launching 13th November!) where you’ll find the tarot deck, prints of the images and plenty of information about this amazing project.
And if you’d like to experience Wheel of Fortune for yourself, you’ll find it at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, from 31st August to 7th September 2015.
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.