READING THE DECK OF TARA
“Reading The Deck of Tara” is based on a five-month expedition I made in a sailboat drifting around the North Pole. The performance consists of a card table, two chairs, and a bespoke deck of 52 cards. I had the cards fabricated with different photographic images from the expedition on one side and the wood grain from the ship’s table on the other. Each card was given a title and represented an event from the expedition or a metaphor.
I, or the “reader,” sit opposite the viewer or “sitter.” One card, the Sun card, is turned face up on the center of the table. Four more cards are dealt around the central card. Three cards are dealt face down. The sitter chooses one card to turn over. The pattern is repeated until nine cards are turned face up.
I use the chance arrangement of the cards to tell a series of connected stories based on the polar expedition. As I scan the archives of my memory, I try to offer up stories that will bring the sitter on a journey from card to card, choosing one theme that will tie together the spread. The main challenge is extrapolating metaphorical structures from real-life events to create unexpected chains of thought and not fall back on tried-and-true stories to please the sitter.