Tarots of History

Re-visitation and Demystification

For my final project, I will explore the mediation of the fascist heritage into the contemporary Italian moment; indeed, this project will contrast the monolithic reading of history envisioned by fascist ideology. The linear understanding of the past and its effects are re-visited and demystified through a path of tarot cards, which uncover the fascist heritage and its influence in the given moment. Tarot cards are part of the Italian folk tradition, both as card games and later as instrument of divination, and for this reason they are a symbol of defiance towards the technocratic ideology behind fascism. These cards will initiate different historical discourses of dictatorship and mediation, especially through their visual symbolism. furthermore, they will disrupt a linear understanding of history becoming independent chapter that challenge the conventional understanding of the past.

Resisting and mediating History

The visual language of the major arcana is an active agency of the contrasting relationship of fascism in opposition to folklore. The aim is to re-visit history and, at the same time, to demystifying it through a non-linear approach. For these reasons, I decided to choose five of the major arcana: The Tower – XVI, The Hanged Man – XII, Wheel of Fortune – X, The Empress – III and The Fool – 0.    

THE HANGED MAN

A key word of this card is mediation and it will open a discussion on the shift from Benito Mussolini death to the complicity of Fascist politics in the contemporary moment. An example of which is the presence of his niece, Alessandra Mussolini, in the Italian political world and the entertainment world. 

THE TOWER

The Tower is the emergence of what was imprisoned: the Colonial Past. There is a historical amnesia in which the colonial expeditions under the fascist dictatorship have been erased and in which these colonies have been reduced to their monetary value.

(Negotiating Amnesia (2015) dir. Alessandra ferrini. https://vimeo.com/145849615)

 

 

 

 

THE EMPRESS

Resisting the mother and the seductress. 

This card will aid a discourse of women’s role and femininity, that  will be highlighted through the Silvio Berlusconi’s period into the political and entertaining world. 

(Videocracy (2009) dir. Erik Gandini)


THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE

 

The wheel is turned by external elements in which the card illustrates the hand of god turning the wheel of ‘fortune’.  This chapter will explore the influence of The USA and other Western powers in the political, social and culture environment of Italy after WWII. The Wheel of Fortune is the beginning or end of a cycle, similarly to history itself, however the hand that spin the wheel is not providence, but capital.

THE FOOL

The Fool is the card without a number. “It is the sole Major Arcana card not to be defined numerically. He represents the original boundless energy, total freedom, madness, disorder, chaos, or even the fundamental creative urge.” The Fool is the future: ungraspable and feasible at the same time. as the present dictates the future. 

Questions for the group: 

Readings or cases of studies that could benefit this project. 

Are there too many ‘cards’?

Any technical aspect that could improve the project. 

 

7 Comments

  1. John Vu

    I like the Tarot Card idea.

    The Major Arcana deck of 22 cards seems like a reasonable number.
    Maybe a page with all 22 cards with sliders (an expanded version of what you have here) and a link to a seperate page that will show a random card if you want to still have the card drawing aspect.

  2. admin

    I think I should raise a small caution about equating fascism too closely with a linear vision of history. It’s true that both Nazism and Italian fascismo seek to portray themselves as inheritors of a classical past, but they also sometimes see themselves as establishing a reign or regime that is outside of history (i.e., “eternal”). That said, using the Tarot as a way to break up the “unity” (historical and otherwise) that fascism imagines for itself is an excellent organizing concept here.
    A major question here, as you ask, is how many cards to use, and how much information will be associated with each card–and how will the information be “laid out.” You propose five cards, while I see that John suggests above using all 22 card in the major arcana. But I’m not sure if all cards would be visible on a (randomized?) “first deal,” or if some/other cards might show up later in the “stacks” of info? Maybe some sort cross-referencing or cross-linking would make sense here, too.
    I’ll stop here for now.

  3. M Oginz

    Great idea. I like the idea of using all 22 cards, though I think generating enough content might be a problem in that case. If anything, 5 cards might be too few, but maybe there’s a historical framework/argument for using just those 5?

    I would just try things out and play with things in the modules/h5p. It could be interesting to generate a kind of tarot reading of history or perhaps of fascism itself? Branching or randomization could be useful in doing that, of course, such an approach would be more effective with more cards.

  4. Alec Smith

    You clearly have put a lot of time and thought into this project, and it seems you have a fascination with both Italian history and divination. With my basic knowledge about tarot, I know some believe that a deck should be gifted to you, so some sort of landing page saying “these cards have been gifted to you” could be a nice aesthetic touch. I believe there is a randomization option in H5P that could replicate traditional tarot picking. I agree with Max that it could be difficult to fill 22 cards with unique scenarios, but I’m sure it’s possible. 11 or so cards would likely be enough. If you want to orient this more toward the user, you could potentially add questions like “how does this make you feel?” “What is leaving/arriving at this time?” etc.

  5. M Salmassi

    The five cards are a good start into an algorithm to explore permutations on mediating history. I wonder whether more cards would avoid history’s cobwebbed corners. If the idea of cards and chance are appealing then I would opt for as many cards as possible. Some games can be played with several decks of the Standard Deck of cards. Circumstances around globalization could produce unexpected events like COVID.

  6. Behrang Garakani

    Hi Amanda,

    This is an interesting project as I’m curious about where you will go next. Would going deeper on the cards you have would help you answer how many cards there should be?

    Regarding readings, Mussolini gave Cesare Mori, the “Iron Prefect” of Palermo, carte blanche to take down the Sicilian Mafia. They were almost successful. There was also suppression on the Napoli Camorra. John Dickie’s “Cosa Nostra” is an excellent reference and he wrote a chapter devoted to it: Socialism, Fascism, Mafia / 1893-1943.

    There’s another subject worth considering: the Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI). It was started by the fascist regime loan money to rescue banks and businesses after the Great Depression. Ironically, the same institution gave out loans to rebuild Italy after WWII. I always found it curious that the IRI helped rebuild the country during fascism then helped to rebuild it as a democracy. I don’t have readings for you on this one as this was on my to-research list.

  7. Ashkan

    Hi Amanda,

    I love this idea! I must confess that I know absolutely nothing about Tarot cards, so very curious to see where this goes.

    I actually think five is the perfect number. Enough to create a variety of different aspects, without getting too overwhelming. The great thing is that this is a project that is easily expandable, so you can always add more cards in the future if you decide to build on top of it.

    One aspect I’m a little confused about is how you are planning to relate the cards to the historical aspect. Will each card correspond to a few paragraphs/mini-essay, exploring one aspect of the fascist heritage? One suggestion I can make is to make different details on the card clickable – for example, for the Fool card, clicking on the dog, on the flower, on the Fool’s head, etc each can open a different popup, which could themselves contain texts, link to videos, images, etc. This could further reinforce your non-linear reading of history, as opposed to one card ~ one mini-essay.

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