Tarot and Art

“Art plays with conventional forms, stretching the imagination towards liberation from constraints.” -Camelia Elias

Art as a vehicle for moving the heart, stirring the soul, and confronting the self with the eternal, the non-discursive, the symbolic, the metaphorical. I start here because I recently participated in Camelia Elias’s most recent course offering, a one-day affair, Art Tarot. As a result, this post is about me expressing my ideas born out of what this excursion engendered in me.

When speaking of art in relation to tarot, I find that tarot already functions as a vehicle for dislodging strictures, one that offers the space to question conventional forms, moving awareness and understanding beyond the quotidian.

Tarot Piatnik Wein Marseille Tarot
Pointner Tarot, Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne Wein, 1974.

I clarify, that the debate on what exactly constituents as art is unending, and I do not pretend to advance any particular aesthetic or claim. But I do think it worthwhile to consider some points as we shuffle our artistic tarot decks.

Gypsy Tarot Tsigane Zigeuner Tarot de Marseille
Gypsy Tarot: Tsigane Zigeuner Tarot, Walter Wegmüller, published by AGMüller-Urania, Belgium, 1982.

In what way does the whole (78 cards) transgress the norm and moves the soul, and as a corollary moves the vision into new territory?

In what way does it fail in doing so?

In what way, whether in the ordering of the majors, their naming, their quantity (more than 78 cards), does the deck contextualize your point of view?

Art tarot should be about pushing the boundaries, offering artists a platform to explore the symbol as it frames the soul of the human condition within the moment of reading the cards. While also offering the readers a space for exploring the artist’s perspective and aesthetic.

All this is inherently socio-political, or at the very least it has the potential of being so, of pushing cultural normative boundaries. And that is good, tarot also has a place for that.

Some of us have art decks that we do not know quite how to approach, ones that challenge our convictions and opinions. We as tarot readers should embrace these instances that challenge us, that makes us question our perhaps calcified opinions on what tarot should and shouldn’t be, and in this case, what art should and shouldn’t’ be. We as humans are always in the flux of changes, mutability is the only constant in life, hence all the more reason to lean into this flux, to let the image, the symbolic, the rhyme move our soul and our sight into new and perhaps even unknown territory.

Besides, beyond contextualizing our self in relation to any given art tarot, considering the points that stand out in any given tarot deck can refine our awareness of space, of the subjective, and by consequence of the rhyme in the images.

“One of the primary functions of art is to dislodge our sense of familiarity, to induce in the viewer a sense of alienation and dis-ease, thus opening the door to the darkness within.” -Camelia Elias

In summation, I might not have said too much, but perhaps as you shuffle your tarot decks, consider these already stated questions in relation to how they unveil the darkness within:

  • In what way does the whole (78 cards) transgress the norm and moves the soul, and as a corollary moves the vision into new territory?
  • In what way does it fail in doing so?
  • In what way, whether in the ordering of the majors, their naming, their quantity (more than 78 cards), does the deck contextualize your point of view?

~~~

Camelia Elias, Art Tarot, Aradia Academy http://www.aradia-academy.com/, June 2018.

La Maga Tarot


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