The Mountain Dream Tarot
August 13, 2020 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Bea Nettles has dedicated her life to photography, and she executed what is believed to be the world’s first-ever photographic tarot deck in the early 1970s. She was enrolled as a printmaking student at the Penland Art School in Bakersville, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, when in 1970 she had a dream in which she came up with the idea of producing her own tarot deck using the art of photography. [Dangerous Minds]
posted by Johnny Wallflower (25 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Love it! Many of the cards are beautiful, although Strength is kind of phoning it in... lol. I am madly in love with Temperance though. And the 9 of Cups is a hilarious take on what is normally a rather smug-looking rich dude... but this cowboy looks pretty pleased with his lot as well!
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:23 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

Wow, these are deeply evocative and very nice. Feels like a tarot I could read nicely, really. My go-to tarot for years has been the entirely photoshop (but also photography-based) Cosmic Tribe Tarot, which seems to share some things with this much earlier and very imaginative deck.
posted by hippybear at 3:36 PM on August 13

Another very nice (but completely different) early photographic deck is the New York Tarot.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 3:40 PM on August 13 [9 favorites]

Just ordered the deck. A bit spendy but I think I will enjoying having it.
posted by hippybear at 3:45 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]

The New York deck has Quentin Crisp as Strength. Posed with one of the NYPL lions. Perfect.
posted by njohnson23 at 4:12 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]

Nettles interviewed by Lyle Rexer, photograph magazine Jan/Feb 2020
Breaking the rules: A photo media cookbook by Bea Nettles
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:37 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

One of those damn-I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that things.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:43 PM on August 13

LOL I love how Strength is just holding a Labrador or something.
posted by Tom-B at 7:53 PM on August 13

Oh, this is dreamy and strange and wonderful. I visited Penland when I was fairly little (I have family near-ish), and it's a remarkable place. I love that this came from there.

(I haven't read tarot in ages, but tempted to buy a deck -- and also her bookbinding book!)
posted by kalimac at 9:10 PM on August 13

I'm all "support artists you like during a pandemic", personally.
posted by hippybear at 9:13 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]

This is so very 70s.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 9:45 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]

I think it's just her aesthetic? Check out 1990's "Moon Sisters" booklet. (More examples at the Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory retrospective - 50 years! - online at the Eastman Museum.) I've liked her collaborations with her mom, poet Grace Nettles. I'm into technique chat and there's some of that in this LensCulture interview with Cat Lachowskyj.
[Thanks for this post, Johnny Wallflower!]
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:34 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]

doubtfulpalace, thanks for the tip on the New York Tarot.
posted by larrybob at 10:36 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

Suzanne Treister HEXEN 2.0 tarot cards.

HEXEN 2.0 looks into histories of scientific research behind government programmes of mass control, investigating parallel histories of countercultural and grass roots movements. HEXEN 2.0 charts, within a framework of post-WWII U.S. governmental and military imperatives, the coming together of scientific and social sciences through the development of cybernetics, the history of the internet, the rise of Web 2.0 and increased intelligence gathering, and implications for the future of new systems of societal manipulation towards a control society.
posted by are-coral-made at 12:17 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]

I'd only ever seen the same old sets of hand-drawn tarot cards before; I wasn't aware that there were so many different and interesting versions. These are all neat to look at.

the entirely photoshop (but also photography-based) Cosmic Tribe Tarot,

Just an FYI in case someone is on their work computer, these are nicely done but somewhat NSFW.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:08 AM on August 14

The artist of the Cosmic Tribe tarot, Stevee Postman, did graphics for long-haired queer zine Hippie Dick! in the 90s.
posted by larrybob at 8:22 AM on August 14

Absolutely love her work - great post!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:22 AM on August 14

Nice! A modern photo deck I like a lot is Alice Smeets' and Atis Rezistans' Ghetto Tarot.
posted by hades at 11:18 AM on August 14

Dip Flash, this is an era with a huge number of tarot decks from various aesthetics and various media.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 11:23 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]

Oh nice, my tarot deck shipped today. i can't wait to see it in person. It looks lovely!
posted by hippybear at 7:16 PM on August 14

This is cool!
posted by Liquidwolf at 4:51 AM on August 15

Package Status: Arriving Late

Oh 2020, you're so cute with your continuing antics!
posted by hippybear at 10:11 PM on August 17

Oh, my deck arrived today! It's really lovely. I can't wait to sit with it and really look at it!
posted by hippybear at 6:02 PM on August 18

Package Status: Arriving Late

Well, if you’d had a tarot deck you could have predicted that.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:55 PM on August 18 [2 favorites]

This whole deck feels like it fell through a wormhole in time. I mean, it was first published in 1970 so I guess in some ways it did, but it's really so truly lovely. It's so the opposite of my heavily-photoshopped Cosmic Tribe deck, it's also a strange mirror upon it. I wonder if Stevee had seen any of this deck before designing theirs. I'm very happy to have this work! I don't know if I would ever read for others with them but I might shuffle them a bit and see what comes up for me. :D
posted by hippybear at 9:10 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]

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