Weird of fortune! Artist creates tarot cards featuring smiling poop

Weird of fortune! Artist creates tarot cards featuring smiling poop
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The future is in his hands.

An artist will tell people’s fortunes using pictures of smiling poop, a hairy scrotum, and a unicorn wearing a velour outfit at Reverse gallery in Williamsburg on April 10. Richie Brown created his own original deck of tarot-style cards featuring the weird images mixed in with more traditional tarot symbols, which he will use to give live readings during an exhibition opening. But Brown said he is no clairvoyant — the cards just answer people’s questions by showing them what they subconsciously already know, but can’t admit.

“The way the deck works is it empowers the people who are using it to make decisions with things they already know, but need an outside source to tell them,” said Brown.

Brown said the photo of grinning excrement in his “Brown Magick Oracle Deck” symbolizes “satisfying relief.” Another card features an alien, which represents the feeling of being ostracized, he said. These are shuffled in with more established tarot images, such as swords and vases. Brown made the cards by taking photographs of the people or objects in question — he even posed for several of the cards, including dressing up as the devil and the maid.

Brown’s fortune-telling performance piece is part of a broader exhibition at Reverse called “Myth and Mutations,” which features five other works that combine modern and traditional symbols, including a series of 3–D printed sculptures posed in classical Renaissance forms, and a video animation of pink creatures performing a workout routine designed by the South Korean government.

Brown said he first became interesting in cartomancy — that’s telling fortunes using a deck of cards — after encountering a friend’s grandmother’s oracle deck from the 1920s, and being surprised when the cards correctly analyzed his life. But he wasn’t convinced, so he made an identical deck — and those nailed it, too.

“I’m a super skeptical person,” he said. “We started doing parallel readings with the two decks — we would read each other doing both decks at the same time to see if the same message came across, and it did.”

After that, he decided to make his own cards with more universal themes. Brown said he began bringing them to parties and everyone, even those who professed to be private people, started sharing their life stories after the readings.

“It is almost like you’re playing the role of a therapist in a way,” said Brown, who will also teach others how to give readings during the exhibition opening.

Brown said he still doesn’t believe in the supernatural or psychics. Instead, he said he plays the earthly middleman.

“I try to stay agnostic in all aspects of my life so I sort of don’t believe or disbelieve,” he said. “I like straddling those two because it leaves me open.”

Richie Brown’s “Brown Magick Oracle Deck” and “Myth and Mutations” at Reverse (28 Frost St. between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, www.reversespace.org). Opening reception April 10 at 7 pm. Free. Show runs through May 2.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.