Justin Aversano on ‘smoke and mirrors’, his silkscreen tarot series that bridges digital and analogue

interview with Justin Aversano on “Smoke and Mirrors”

In “Smoke and Mirrors”, based in Los Angeles photographer and artist Justin Aversano creates his own version of the tarot deck through a mixed media approach that bridges the digital and analog worlds. As of 2018, Aversano has photographed 78 sets of artists, astrologers, psychics and other forms of mystics from around the world, each representing a unique tarot card in the polaroid deck. “They’re people who were in my life, who I connected with, who I looked up to, who I wanted to connect with – this project allowed me to make those connections through art.” he tells designboom.

After capturing each person’s black-and-white portrait, Aversano turns the photo into a silkscreen printed on Egyptian papyrus paper, which he then rephotographs and turns into NFT. “I call them tarot scrolls because they’re silkscreens on papyrus, and it’s a way to bridge ancient paper with modern printing processes and then put it on the blockchain.” explains. “It works with the past, present and future and plays with time in the way it’s conceived and executed.”


all images © Justin Aversano

dealing with death through art

As in previous projects, Justin Aversano“Smoke and Mirrors” deals with a subject that is equally universal and personal to the artist: death. “All my works have this element of death,” he says during our interview. “If you look at the birthday project, it’s in honor of my mom while she was still alive and going through chemotherapy, and how to celebrate life and cherish every day and whoever is a part of it. ‘Cognition’ started after my mum died, shortly after the birthday project, and it was about picking up the pieces of myself that were fragmented – collage is the best way to do that. And then I started Twin Flames two years after that, and that was more to honor my twin who died before we were born. Smoke and Mirrors is about my father and is about dealing with death before it happens and its inevitability. He is still alive, but he tells me every day that he will die soon. I want to deal with that feeling and not have to heal from it afterwards and actually deal with it with him.”

For Aversano, what ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ comes from is the story, the journey and where death brings you or allows you to relive a whole new life. Through this work, he was able to talk more about death, understand it and not be afraid of it. His father’s death card photo shows him standing at the grave of Aversano’s mother, next to a tombstone bearing his own surname.“The most important thing is love and the time you spend with a person. This is the real gift of death before it happens. Once you feel it will happen, all you can do is spend time with them. There is no other way, it will happen to all of us. Many people connect with me through my art. Parents passing, or someone in their life passing. Death connects us all because we all experience it.’

Justin Aversano on 'smoke and mirrors', his silkscreen tarot series that bridges digital and analog
the death card

FROM POLAROIDS TO FILMERS AND NFTS

For each of the 78 portrait photographs, Aversano makes a black-and-white version and then prints it as a screen print. “Silk printing is like what you feel inside a camera”, explains. “When you expose the paper it’s like exposing the film, and when you press the squeegee it’s like pushing the shutter. I like to talk about how screen printing is really like a photographic process, where the screen is the mirror and the light is the ink.” Each of the screen prints is printed on paper sourced from Egypt. “It’s really ancestrally activated and I like to say that this work is for the ancestors, for our parents. That’s what this project is all about, how you show your life to your family. And for me it’s through my art, through the lens and how I see the world and how I want to connect with people. Art is the best excuse to create and connect with other people.’

Aversano also draws a parallel between the work and Egyptian hieroglyphics. “Somehow, we create new hieroglyphs or neoglyphs,” notes. “In ancient times, they painted glyphs from everyday things and I wondered what hieroglyphs would look like now? For me, photography is the best way to convey this because it is a depiction of reality. The papyrus also lends itself so well to the idea of ​​the tarot concept and how ancient the stories and humanity itself are. I want to connect our ancient selves and work with the blockchain, connect these two worlds, the old and the new, the analog and the digital. Not only with the final NFTs, but also in the process.”

Justin Aversano on 'smoke and mirrors', his silkscreen tarot series that bridges digital and analog
King of coins

‘SMOKE AND MIRRORS’ EXHIBITED IN LOS ANGELES AND BERLIN

After four years in the making, Smoke and Mirrors will be on display from March 25 to April 8, 2023, at the Gabba Gallery in Los Angeles, and then from April 25 to May 14 at EXPANDED.ART in Berlin. The 78 pieces of the work will be on display, along with a book that comes with a polaroid tarot deck. “It’s my own version of the tarot, so the book includes all the pictures in it and refers to the cards they represent.” says Aversano. ‘So when you do readings, the book shows you what the cards mean.’

Justin Aversano on 'smoke and mirrors', his silkscreen tarot series that bridges digital and analogue
black and white version of King of Coins

Justin Aversano on 'smoke and mirrors', his silkscreen tarot series that bridges digital and analog
Nine of Swords

Justin Aversano on 'smoke and mirrors', his silkscreen tarot series that bridges digital and analogue
Nine Staffs

Justin Aversano on 'smoke and mirrors', his silkscreen tarot series that bridges digital and analogue
Screen print of the Nine of Staffs

Justin Aversano on 'smoke and mirrors', his silkscreen tarot series that bridges digital and analogue
Ten of Cups

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *