The Tarot Project
The Tarot Project, a Creativity Tarot,a Writing Workshop in a Box a collaboration between poet Tony Barnstone and Alexandra Eldridge. Partially funded and conceived at Whittier College, LA, The Center for the Collaboration Among the Arts.
There Is No Such Thing As The End
About 20 Victorian glass plates were discovered in an attic of a stately home in Texas. Once meticulously cleaned from 100 years of dust, they revealed images from a portrait studio of astonishing beauty filled with haunting charm and mystery. Upon receiving the plates as a gift the artist Alexandra invited the London based artist Predrag Pajdic to collaborate on this ongoing project named There Is No Such Thing As The End, which started as a contemplation on death that soon became a celebration of life… The project includes photography, drawing, painting and embroidery while using antique scrolls, sterling silver, crystals, feathers, flowers, taxidermy, precious stones, found and gifted objects. A selection of this work (as shown here) has been specially created for the upcoming exhibition The Oracle at WE*DO Gallery in Bangkok from 5 January – 5 April 2012. Previously in October of 2011, 13 pieces from this body of work were selected and shown as a part of The International Festival of Contemporary Arts City Of Women, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
A Celebration of Life
Santa Fe based artist, Alexandra Eldridge, and London based curator and artist (and HUSK contributor) Predrag Pajdic joined forces to create a series of beautiful plates celebrating life. We spoke to them about life, death and their upcoming exhibition in Bangkok.
So, how did the plates end up in your hands?
AE: The plates were given to me – as a gift – from a close friend who discovered them, while refurbishing an old stately home in Houston, Texas. Upon discovery, she knew that I would create something based on these images. In unexpected circumstances, shortly there after my friend took her own life… Death – a subject not easy to deal with – became reality in which I saw the urgency in fulfilling her intuition.
Do you know who is shown or do you have any assumptions about the people in there?
AE: The images depict fairy-like children from a portrait studio in Texas, US from around 1900. Unfortunately there is no signature, date or any indication where they may come from. They are 5 x 8 inches original glass plate negatives, most of which were in a decayed state. Once meticulously cleaned from 100 years of dust, they revealed images of astonishing beauty filled
with haunting charm and mystery.
How did you two end up working together on this project?
AE: Upon receiving the plates I invited Predrag to contemplate on such a discovery, which resulted in an ongoing collaboration. We had met a decade previously while exhibiting in the same gallery in the US. Ever since we have been travelling together across the globe in search for inspiration, enlightenment and wonderment. We became close friends which made the process of working together very natural.
PP: The project began in January of 2011, while attending the exhibition Ancient Egypt at the British Museum: The Book of the Dead. This was largely a series of spells painted on papyrus that helped to carry the soul into the next world after death. Here the idea was born to print the images of these newly revealed children on vintage Chinese scrolls and re-imagine them through a palimpsest of painting, printing, collage and drawing. They would serve as carriers of messages from another time and realm. To have the subtle becoming manifest… to illuminate the Inbetween worlds.
The collaboration began in Alexandra’s studio, not long after in Santa Fe, New Mexico, US in March of 2011. Here we became deeply engaged in urging out the essence of each child, bringing them into life through our imaginations. Because the plates were given in such circumstances, we found this to be a poignant process bridging life and death… perhaps a way to connect to the other realms, the spheres of the unknown.
In September we met again in Ljubljana, Slovenia to continue the process of re-animation of the unknown children. Thirteen scrolls were selected to be exhibited as part of the International Festival of Contemporary Arts City of Women.
The process continued in November of 2011, when a fellow artist , upon seeing our work, offered a group of glass negatives from the same time period, 1900. These originated in a portrait studio in Albuquerque, NM from an orphanage, largely Native American. I returned to Santa Fe where our collabortion continued.
You say that it started as a project about death but then turned into a celebration of life – how did the turn happen?
AE: Death was presented to us by difficult circumstances which were out of our control. At the time the plates came into out hands we also lost unexpectedly our dear mutual friend Helmut Loehr. There was no other way but to look at death in the face. We were forced to deal with loss. How do we honour the dead? Is death really the ultimate end? Then we remembered Helmut’s often repeated refrain: “There is no such thing as death”, which became the title of our project. At this point we began to focus on life.
As far as I can judge you used elements of American Native Paintings, Japanese Drawings and also jewellry – what is the story behind this?
PP: New Mexico is perhaps one of the most dramatic landscapes of the States with a powerful Native American presence. It is an ancient land filled with unique energy, history and spirituality as well as Alexandra’s home.
The magic of this collaborative journey was enhanced by a visit to the Feast Day mysterious dances at Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico on the 19th of November 2011. The ceremonial, sacred nature of this event reminded us of the need of amulets, charms and votive offerings for the celebration of life. This is why we bejeweled our work with sterling silver, crystals, feathers, flowers, taxidermy, precious stones and found and gifted objects often used in Native American adornments.
Other influences came mostly from our journeys where often we would be exposed to stories and subject dealing with life and death. This enhanced our awareness of life’s impermanence. We became conscious of every single moment we have been given… and we wish to delight in life! This is what this work is about!
Text: From the interview for HUSK Magazine, conducted by Vinz Hölzl, November 2011