Ghetto Tarot – A Photographer Re-Interprets The Traditional Deck. Beautifully.

Alice Smeets Ghetto Tarot

Belgian photographer Alice Smeets decided to create her own interpretation of a Tarot Deck using her own photos. Combining three of her passions; the spiritual world, the Haitian culture and its people, along with her philosophical take on the duality between the rich and the poor, Smeets came up with Ghetto Tarot.

Alice Smeets Ghetto Tarot

Alice Smeets Ghetto Tarot

The filmmaker, artist and teacher’s documentary photos from Haiti are fairly well known. Smeets is the recipient of several awards including the Unicef Photo of the Year Award 2008. As a regular visitor to Haiti (and a resident there for 2 years), the complexity and spirituality of Haiti have always intrigued the photographer, who is shown below.

photog Alice Smeets
photographer Alice Smeets

Alice Smeets Ghetto Tarot is a photographic interpretation of the Rider Waite Tarot Deck, originally designed in 1909 by artist Pamela Colman Smith.

rider waite tarot deck boxed IIHIH
above: The original Rider Waite Tarot Deck

To execute this very personal project, Smeets enlisted a group of Haitian artists called Atis Rezistans (shown below) who receive 20% of the profits from the project.

Atiz Rezistans

She took photos in the ghetto of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince illustrating the spirits and meanings of the cards with a touch of humor. Shooting in the Haitian slums using local materials, the local artists’ art and symbolism from the Voodoo religion, her Ghetto Tarot show colored people for the first time on the traditionally old European cards.

alice smeets ghetto tarot
Alice Smeets Ghetto Tarot

The results are beautiful, see for yourself. We’ve put her images side by side with the original art that inspired them.

GT The Sun

GT The Star

GT The Magician tarot

GT the hermit alic e smeets

GT The hanged Man

GT The Fool

GT queen of wands

GT King of Swords

GT Ace of wands

GT nine of swords

GT 8 of swords

GT three of swords

GT tomb

GT The five of Cups

GT nine of cups

GT six of cups

GT eight of Cups

GT six of wands

GT the death card

UPDATE: The Alice Smeets Ghetto Tarot deck has been funded and produced and is now available for purchase here and here!

According to her facebook page, Alice is worked with Yannick Dubois for the designs for the back sides of the cards.


The following video created for Indiegogo was directed and produced by Romel Jean Pierre with camera work and editing by Jon Kaufman.

Alice also recently produced a documentary, AIDependence, demonstrating the negative influence of the aid industry on the Haitian population, using Haiti as a representation for the happenings in many developing countries.

Alice Smeets

information and images courtesy of the photographer and her Facebook page. Story brought to my attention by The Guardian