Classic tarot cards get a photographic reinterpretation with a touch of Haitian ghetto

“Ghetto Tarot”, the classic tarot card reinvented, is a collection of striking portraits by Haitian artists and photographer Alice Smeets.

Inspired by the Haitian ghetto and the Rider Waite Tarot deck designed by Pamela Colman Smith in 1909, Belgian photographer Alice Smeets, in collaboration with Atis Rezistans (Resistant Artists), thought it was high time to lend the deck a contemporary interpretation.

The Rider Waite Tarot deck is the most popular deck used in the English-speaking world. Whether you’re superstitious or not, tarot cards are likely to have made an appearance in your life.

Living in the ghettos of Port-au-Prince, Smeets and Atis Rezistans shot the entire 78-card “Ghetto Tarot” deck in the Haitian ghetto, using props and materials that were available or could be made locally. The result is a tarot card deck bursting with provocative and vivid imagery, colour and significance.

The word ghetto was adopted into Haitian Creole to name the poorest neighbourhoods of their cities. Where some might take offence to the name “ghetto”, the Atis Rezistans don’t use “ghetto” as a slur. Their intention is to take a word loaded with unfavourable sentiment and alter its meaning to represent their lived reality – one filled with family, brotherhood and sisterhood, community and a rich sense of creativity. 

All images courtesy of Alice Smeets and Atis Rezistan