In the mid-15th century, tarot originated as a pack of playing cards. By the 18th century the cards evolved into mental and spiritual pathways for mystics and occultists. Each card depicts one of 22 major archetypes, each of which bears a special symbolic meaning for those to whom they're dealt.
For 20 years photographer Victoria Goldman has been consumed by the workings of the tarot, both for their beauty and the rich history the cards have acquired. In her newest exhibition "Mythicos Divinare," Goldman creates her own version of the tarot deck, forming a mythology full of mysterious shadows and ethereal women.
The photos, shot with a vintage Polaroid and film amd a twin lens Rolleiflex camera, offer a hypnotic twist on classical photography. Inspired by Francesca Woodman or Julia Margaret Cameron, Goldman has a knack for balancing softness and darkness, nature and the supernatural. Gold, glittered dresses shimmer like the night sky while darkened branches resemble brittle ghosts.
"I chose to use one main model for this show to speak to the fact that all of the characters that tarot contains are within each one of us," Goldman explained to Robin Rice Gallery. The same subject plays the roles of Lady Luck, the Emperor, the Devil and the World, symbolizing the infinite multiplicity waiting in each of us.
Even without fully understanding the history of the tarot, Goldman's exhibition captures the bewitching spirit of the timeless practice in a contemporary light. The photos, seductive and somewhat haunting, show the undeniable power hidden in this ancient practice.
The exhibition runs until December 14 at Robin Rice Gallery. Enjoy a preview of the Tarot deck below.
Correction: An earlier edition of this article misstated that tarot cards were used by occultists since the 15th century. We regret the error.