The following texts came into being as a result of a workshop about tarot and writing. We used tarot cards, their imagery, and the archetypes they represent as a way of meaning making. We talked about landscapes, colours, movements, and symbols and how we relate to them. We explored how tarot can become a tool for crafting a text, such as a divination tool, using tarot spreads to build an outline, as visual inspiration, as content, or by using the archetypes of the tarot as crossroads at which elements from contemporary reality meet the performance.

Besides tarot, there was another companion of the writing process – a talk with dancer/choreographer Anna Nowicka about the creative process of her new piece Flicker.
Ideas were exchanged about moving between darkness and lightness, communal dreams, and the body as a portal. Through a collective tarot reading we examined Anna’s piece-in-process, practicing our interpretive skills. The texts that follow come out of this process, are written by the participants in the workshop, and all touch Anna’s creative process and the topics that emerged during the talk with her in one way or another. These are not texts about Flicker, but texts inspired by the ideas behind the piece and the talk on it. They are texts about process, about interpretation, about drawing something out of the spaces between what is laid out before you, what you feel in your body. Seda Niğbolu & Louise Trueheart (Workshop-Inventors & Editors)

My bad relationship with Tarot cards
by Yuko Chigira
The first time I used Tarot cards was on a free fortune telling web site. I asked the Tarot cards on my computer "Does he like me?" again and again, until I got a good result. This activity became addictive.

The editor of a Japanese fashion magazine told me once that most websites of fashion magazines in Japan rely entirely on advertising revenue from their fortune-telling pages, which have hundreds of times the traffic of the fashion pages. The more I click, the more ad revenue it generates, and the more big data stores information about my interests. There is no mystery, but global capitalism. Even so, I couldn't stop clicking.

I often asked the Tarot cards on my smart phone, ''Does my sex friend love me?'' until a card said, "He wants to get married to you!" Based on the result of the divination, I went out to see him. After moving to Berlin, I started to understand what I was doing and started therapy. I was a victim of sexual violence 15 years ago. This affair altered my brain and caused PTSD symptoms of constant anxiety. My addictions to the internet and sex were linked to this trauma.

I didn't notice it when I was living in Japan. Japan's gender gap is ranked 120th in the world and people accept predominance of men over women. Fifteen years ago, I was told, "It's not a big deal, it's your fault to be involved with a bad man. Shut your mouth and forget." Intense fear and shock affect the limbic system and obscure memories. I had suffered from PTSD for a long time and was diagnosed with unknown causes even in the department of psychosomatic medicine. I didn’t realize what my condition was until 2020, through talking to my Berlin friends.

My therapist told me that addiction, even bodily harm, such as eating disorders and cutting, can be a survival tool for some traumatized people. My clicking on fortune-telling sites might be also a way for me to escape from PTSD symptoms. I haven't completely recovered from my symptoms yet, but through cognitive-behavioral therapy and so on, I can deal with it better.

Interestingly, the research of trauma care for victims of sexual violence began with the second wave of American feminism in the 60s and 70s. Early in the 20th century, Sigmund Freud dismissed many mentally ill women’s descriptions of their experiences of sexual violence as false confessions and said, "These are the patients' desires."  Also in my case, by continuing to read articles about the recent #MeToo-movement, I was able to find out what had happened to me. The movement of society and the state of the individual mind are clearly linked. I learned in this corona era that people can touch the shape of one's mind only by connecting with society and others.

I remembered that recently I read a book called "The History of Tarot Cards" by a famous Japanese fortune-teller named Ryuji Kagami. According to the book, Tarot cards originated from a game in Turkey called "Mamlook" and had no mysterious meaning before. In the 18th century, the French pastor A. Court de Géblin insisted that Tarot depicted the mysteries of ancient Egyptian religion, and many European magicians constructed various mystic logic systems on it. In other words, misunderstanding and longing for other cultures created Tarot as a fortune-telling method.

Fortune-telling with people close to you can be relaxing and make unexpected ideas come to our mind, but now I find more interesting the book's claim that "the card itself does not contain any secrets or the magic of the universe." It tells us that historically, human beings always lost their way in the tremendous chaos of gaps between cultures. As an aside, in the pre-modern East Asian cultural sphere centered in China, the universe was determined to consist of five elements called ''Go-gyo'', as opposed to the four minor arcana in the tarot. It is also familiar to me that in East Asia not only fortune-telling, but also medicine, directionology, and calendars had been constructed based on these five principles. Tarot has many quotations from various cultures which sometimes urge me to think too metaphysically and confused, not arousing unfettered thought. I might not have the talent of a fortune-teller.

This creative writing project recruited participants to use tarot cards to do creative writing for Anna Nowicka's dance work. I was interested in the intersection of tarot and performing artworks, and applied to it with an expectation that we would create some stories or poems with cards in the discussion. However, in the first online meeting, we didn't have the opportunity to create stories, so we decided to try to foresee how the choreographer could make good works. Sword 9, Pentacle 6, and Cup 2 were picked up and everyone started to interpret it. I enjoyed it, but at the same time felt a little perplexed. I'm not a fortune teller, but a writer. I think tarot cards could be used as a tool to bring in unexpected creative ideas in unordinary and relaxed atmosphere, but of course the cards cannot make an artist obey. It reminded me of how performance art has helped me until now. After lots of hard rehearsals, I sometime felt a sense of security, like being wrapped by light on the day when we performed with my actors and staff in a theater. For me, art has been the only shelter that provided me with the task of connecting with society and others toward a common goal, even when I suffered from symptoms of PTSD. I was fascinated to drown in chaos by fortune-telling, but it never gave me a perspective on the world as clearly as art did. The context of the premodern class-based religious world, with kings, priests, and slaves without human rights, is in contrast to the idea of modern art, which has been developed within the context of democratic society. After once using Tarot to look back on the past, an artist must return to the world of modern art, where sovereign individuals express themselves in society. 

Of course, I didn't have to worry about being forced to be a fortune teller without talent on this project. At the second meeting, the participants enjoyed reading each other's texts. Some participants wrote beautiful poems that visualized the writer's world view, and I got interested in writing poetry. Struggling to write this essay in my poor English through the new encounters with people, I faced my relationship with tarot. Curiously, since showing this essay in the second meeting, my addictive desire to touch the cards has thoroughly disappeared. It is a magic for me.

I still don't know what will happen in the future. I can imagine that the day before I die, I ask the Tarot cards in my smart phone 1000 times, "Will my disease get better tomorrow?" thereby contributing to the advertising revenue of Google and fortune-telling sites. But after my recovery from PTSD I want to imagine my last day to be more self-confident than that. I hope to meet death without being manipulated by fortune-telling or others in the future.

The palm of your hand drawing circles on my stomach
by Yon Natalie Mik

For you, mother. Because the weight of your breath became my karma and the temperature of your skin my resilience. The body you gave me is traveling today, through different spheres of time, creating a portal to a place where I can meet with you again.

Darkness. Then, flickering memories of your touch. I'm lying on my bed, and you have sat down next to me. You put your hand on my stomach. Warmth. Soft but firm. With determination, the palm of your hand starts to draw circles in a clockwise direction. The whole palm stays glued onto my skin. Medium-sized circles big enough to stroke the entire stomach. Medium-paced movements fast enough to create a comfortable heat. My feet are dangling from the edge of the bed, toes praising the perfect rub. Summer heat unfurls from the inside of the belly button through the limbs and to the hands and feet. The heart is beating faster but I feel quieter than before. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. The body fills up like a balloon that gently presses against your palm. I slowly breathe out. Sherbet orange sunset glow. The hand is still drawing circles. It puts just enough pressure so that I'm reminded of the stomach pain that I was complaining about.

Candlelight. Carried by the flimsy glow of a candle, memories of your voice are floating through the room. You started repeating a mantra while drawing more circles on my stomach. My palm is medicine. I focus on your words. I believe them. I'm only a child, but somehow, I already know that there is no medicine more powerful than your hand drawing circles on my body. The mantra seeps into my stomach like ointment absorbed by dry skin. Coated in satisfaction, I wonder if the pain came because my body missed your hand. The body giggles. This must have been a sign for you to stop. I squint my eyes and try to absorb the rest of the warmth. The circles are still lingering on my body, even after you get up and leave the room.

Neonlight. Flickering sights of a naked body. The room is faintly suffused with light that makes my skin look like old meat on sale. I'm lying on a cold cement floor, slowly twisting like a worm to find comfort, while trying to ignore the pain growing under my skin. I take a deep breath and put the imaginary hand on my stomach. Right there, where it hurts. Warmth. Still soft and firm. The hand starts to draw medium-large and medium-paced circles on my body, whole palm glued onto my skin. Heat unfurls from the inside of the belly button, but the circles might have become smaller. Or were they always this size? Will the day come when I forget the weight of your hand and the temperature of your skin? I'm afraid that memories have an expiration date. I'm afraid that one day, I won't be able to revisit them, when I'm lying here, by myself, with pain. Your palm is medicine. I tell myself when the lights...

Switch off. Our bodies are distant but I want to remain with you. Skin on skin. Bodies glued to one another. Hand drawing. Toes dangling. Body giggling. Hopes give birth to lucid dreams. They bear clear shapes of your palm drawing perfect circles. I know you have left my side. So, I feel puzzled because I sense warmness on my stomach. Is this you?

The journal of radical presence
by Patrycja Masłowska

I believed that through this radio different solar systems and galaxies were speaking to me, crackling and warbling and sending me important information, and yet I was unable to decipher it. (…) In my child’s mind, I understood then that there was more to me than I had ever imagined before. And that even if I were to say, “I’m lost”, then I’d still be starting out with the words “I am”—the most important and the strangest set of words in the world. Olga Tokarczuk, The Tender Narrator

I seek the answer to the question:

How to show up to the marble of one’s perception?

How to integrate the fragmented pieces?

Figure 1 Jacques Lacan, diagram of the visual field


Is there a way to delete the judgment of the image?

Just see

I push through the membrane and long for you to meet me at the bridge

Can you touch the fragments of my story?

The body parts?

The flood of intuition forces the forbidden gate

And for this validation

I’m being watermarked

Some of the improved systems are designed

To detect even the most delicate watermarks.

I was being detected and my profile is being produced.

The human design system chews my natal data,

Tapping and clicking rhythmically

To the algorithm

0 1

0 The Fool

1 The magician

Finally, digital saliva produces my type:


The projector is characterized as the guide,

I prefer to think of her as the curator, as the dramaturg

There is a strong quality of presence to this type -

A Scorpio kind of focus, I would say

She observes, then she absorbs, observes and absorbs again

And this pattern flows patiently


Through the dark serpents

The projector is here, she shows up

Present, concentrated painfully, disciplined in that awaiting solitude

To be recognized and to recognize the potential of others through the quality of radical attention

First, there must be a meeting, a crossroad, a moment of recognition

The projector needs to be recognized

The activation of the projector happens through the invitation

And it’s this invitation, invocation, which calls out her powers

I am the projector

Can I manage to delete the judgment of the image?

Just see

I push through the membrane and long for you to meet me at the bridge

Can you touch the fragments of my story

The body parts?

I am a lighthouse

The ray of light, its source in the nut of my skull, passes through my pupil

I’m surrounded by the wild dark ocean, shades of navy thicken under the layers of disturbed waters

I illuminate a single puddle, very particular but free from expectations. Single Illuminated paddle tricks my eye and everything around me darkens even more

I recognize the fear crawling out from the depths below me

Then I push myself out of my own eye,

Out through the glossy bell jar full of eye slime

Now I am the ray

Sliding down lightly

Who’s eye is it now, the one that I left behind like an empty eggshell?

I navigate myself with the e-motion

It pulls for the movement

It pushes and pulls through the ray

There is a fear of thickening darkness (0)

And a fear of overtaking brightness (1)

What will that light expose if I no longer inhabit the body?

Archetypical void

I ascend just above the cusp of surface

1st house

I am

the surface,

I spread my arms and legs and I duplicate, quadruplicate

And with my own limbs I form a separate fractal that lands on the very top of The border to the underwater like a weightless, long-legged insect

2nd house

Childhood memories (are they mine?) produce e-motion

I load in the tale

Those were the days, when we were all at sea. It seems like

yesterday to me. Species, sex, race, class: in those days none of

this meant anything at all. No parents, no children, just ourselves,

strings of inseparable sisters, warm and wet, indistinguishable

one from the other, gloriously indiscriminate, promiscuous

and fused. No generations. No future, no past. An

endless geographic plane of micromeshing pulsing quanta, limitless

webs of interacting blendings, leakings, mergings, weaving

through ourselves, running rings around each other, heedless,

needless, aimless, careless, thoughtless, amok. Folds and foldings,

plying and multiplying, plicating and replicating.

Sadie Plant Zeros + Ones

3rd house

I operate with a new system of meaning

Now I am simultaneously the surface and the flake of fractals

Unravelling the secret order of chaos

I’m floating on the cool murky waters

Staring up to the skyscape soaking with the ink

Seeing it widely

Observing the transgression of bright into the spectrum of shades

I watch the bridge between those two.

Is there another me under me, too?

Figure 5 screenschot from “Ghost in the shell”

The moon made me do it

Stone face

Gives the rest from the light

It’s a darkness that thickens

The black sauce of intimacy

Intimacy from behind the eyelids

Anna rang her bells
by Simo Vassinen

This morning I woke up at eight o’clock without understanding that the song floating into me was the song I had installed as the alarm song. My phone lets me pick any song to play instead of the alarm sound. How clever! This time it was J’ai dormi sous l’eau by Air, which means “I slept underwater,” and the only lyrics in it are “What a world” and this is what I remember hearing in my in-between state of sleep and wakefulness. I waited in bed until it was 8:20 because that’s when the church bells across the street always chime. What is supposed to happen at 8:20? The church has such a strong presence in the city, if you listen carefully, and I don’t know if I like it to dictate my day. Anyways. It took me a while to realize the song was meant to wake me up. A most tender way to pass through portals is to not realize you are passing through them. Otherwise the change is too abrupt.

Sometimes I’m afraid to fall asleep because I get confused about the inevitable transition it entails. I lie in bed overwhelmed about whether to go for it or not. I can’t understand that to willingly change our state of perception is a thing we do every night. Every night we take the chance of not knowing what pictures may unfold, with the knowing that the scenography and dramaturgy could be truly ghastly. We walk in on the guest list, first in line, but we cannot choose who else will be there. We just don’t know. Sometimes morning brings joyous relief, and waking up in the middle of laughter is one of the finest human experiences. But nothing can be known ahead, before the Night starts. We commit to walking into a theater in the dark and commit to staying through no matter what.

We can interview potential performers beforehand, the ones who might be on stage. I mean, we do this to people around us all day every day anyways. Every phone call with our mothers is actually an interview about their upcoming work. We can ask the performers around us wonderful questions, boring questions, and examine how they interact with matters of the collective and matters of the individual. From these interviews, we may receive inspirational insight, self-explanatory comments, all types of chatter about the life of the performer and the ideas leading to their stagings. If one of these interviews takes place online, as is very trendy at the moment, you can see how their faces look in the layers of screen, Zoom, and internet. Anna Nowicka, for instance, showed up on Zoom with a plant beside her, or kind of half behind her. I liked it, I could focus on something. This digital manifestation –– perhaps conjured by the light in her room –– made her face glow with calm, happiness at being heard, willingness to share. I wonder if she has any unevenness in her face in person because on the screen it was spotless. I think we had met once or twice at an Uferstudios dance-something-something, so I am not sure.

I would like to invite Anna for dinner at my house. We would talk about wonderful things and I would see that her face was actually not even at all. It was a trick that Zoom played on us, a momentary smoothness. It would however not matter because I would have the balcony doors open with some breeze flowing in, I would serve us white wine –– chilled Riesling from thin glasses –– and we would first pretend to talk about art but then talk about our families and fears instead and we would both be even and uneven. One day I will go to Anna’s show, maybe in Warsaw where I would happen to be visiting friends and I happily notice that Anna is performing that very weekend and I take my friends there.

When she starts the show, I will remember the talks we had in the summer night and on Zoom and the cards we pulled in order to pretend to understand her, and then the lights will go on and we are back to square one, and I need to either sit through it or wake up, and afterwards I will either see her differently or see her the same. How can I know that beforehand?

It’s getting late, I feel I am late with everything these days. Is Anna ever late? I wonder what Anna is doing right now. I wonder what song she would pick as a morning alarm clock, what she thinks about the church, if she actually believes in Tarot or if it is rather a tool that could be any tool – one of those tools you can pick to hold and share the responsibility for the decisions we are faced with every day and every hour. I will send her a card that is blank. It will be so funny! She receives the card waiting for it to give her a sign, a symbol, and it’s actually blank! There will be no answer, no tip on how to proceed, except blankness. No, that would be stupid. I would get so annoyed if someone gave me a blank Tarot.


This morning I woke up at eight o’clock and I now have a feeling that the church bells didn’t ring at all. Maybe it’s because we just get accustomed to constants at some point? I saw Anna’s performance Flicker last week, somewhat accidentally as a friend bought us last-minute tickets. When I was writing about this performance, I had not actively understood that I could see it, that I could just get a ticket and a seat. I had lost track of which conversations took place in person, with myself, on the telephone, or whether they took place at all. Whether I danced or watched someone else dance is unclear.

It was Midsummer’s Eve and the sun was at its highest that week. I felt a severe sense of pause –– not unlike during the breath-holding exercises I explored as a means to survive the year. When you hold your breath, there is a comforting pause in which you can step outside of your body and look inside yourself from the outside. The comfort comes from being both full and empty. Anna rang her bells and I heard them and I heard my own bells in them.

by Rayén Mitrovich

In the middle of the darkness of the night, "when there is nothing left to ask,” movements of shadows appear, interweaving with the desire to "be with,” to "be together,” to be close.

Intimacy is a desire that constantly escapes understanding.
Intimacy is an atmosphere that generates elusive borders.

What do these atmospheres touch? What is intimate for one is at the same time a multiplicity; we are like nodes of networked relationships paying attention to what intimacy brings us closer.

With the creative process, an intimate bond with the lover.
The creative process also appears to be a love affair.

What is intimacy?
Who is the lover?
Who is the artist?

The lover's discourse is about not knowing but finding the connections that are still in darkness.
What if I undestand myself as lover instead of an artist?

From this notion of atmosphere, intimacy appears as a field that does not have fixed or definable limits, but rather elusive, gaseous flows that are agencized in a performative bond. It exists, it is produced, it is created, it relates, it expands, it transforms, through the force of gravity exerted by bodies. Its fluid and expansive edges actively dissolve boundaries of what seems to be separated. The atmosphere of intimacy produces relations of proximity, of closeness with what the bodies attract to "themselves" in a given time and place.

This is a radical proximity, between bodies, between words, between imaginations, between desires. Intimacy reveals us.



She was asleep. It's hot in Paris, she lives under the roofs. She is without pants. She does not sleep with the window open, but closes it just before she goes to sleep because it is noisy in the streets of Paris. She lives alone in an apartment that is divided into two rooms, she must cross the other apartment to go to her room or the bathroom, the corridor is shared. She likes to live alone. There is an idealization of what it must be like to live together. She wants to have a family, she wonders how to raise a child if she has that experience with living together, but she thinks that afterwards there are other balances that can be created, she thinks that we are growing every day, she has some kind of hope. She wants to have children young, she knows she wants to build something with him, and a son or a daughter is a plane of collaboration. For her, love is strictly a feeling. Feelings towards someone and from that person towards you. It is not a structure or a way of living, rather a personal impetus. It is not simply love – the act of being together involves many other moments that have nothing to do with love. She believes that they have to resolve that, that they have to leave space for the intimate of each other. She believes that intimacy is the transition between what she is, between what happens in her body, in her head, and how she expresses herself in the world. The border between intimate and non-intimate is the decision to express. The intimate is close to her emotions, to what she feels. Intimate is what she keeps to herself. Intimate is also how to share what we keep to ourselves, what we feel does not correspond to the image we want others to have of us. We keep it to be closer to the person we want to be, what others think of us. I am the person I open to the world. To open intimacy is to reveal oneself. SQUARE: we. CIRCLE: what we want them to see of us. SQUARE OVER CIRCLE: she asks herself how do I link myself so that there are subtle connections between the square and the circle? I am the person I open to the world and how I bond refers to how intimate I can become.



He is quiet. Today is a day he did not work; he is resting. For him intimacy is different sections, it is not one. It is a convention. It is not total. It's fragments. He is not a close person. He feels that the word intimacy makes sense to him when he feels safe in a place. He thinks that intimacy is situated. Maybe he just wants to be alone. For him intimacy is being alone and doing whatever he wants. But in love it's different. He believes that everyone has a different way of dealing with intimacy. It can be automatic also with some people, when we know a lot about someone else's intimacy. But to be intimate is to be close. But he is not that kind of guy. But he is open. For him the shower is something very crazy, very intimate. When he is with himself in the bathroom, taking a shower, it is the most special moment. The person in the shower is not the same person as in real life. He likes to explore that other personality. When he is naked, in the heat of the water, he speaks different voices, he moves. Everyone has different shower experiences. But for him it's so special. His hair is blue, so the water is dyed that color every time he showers. Intimacy is a kind of freedom. Opening the heart. It can make sense or not make sense. You have to feel comfortable. Talking, dancing. It is an exposure in front of oneself or another. There is an intention? He doesn't like showers in the morning, he likes the night, so he takes showers in the night, after he finishes work at 8 – 9:00 pm, to relax. It's the first moment he talks intimately with someone he doesn't know personally.

Arranging the body to the intimate encounter is to become the lover's body, which pays attention to the present of itself with a continuity into another body. The intimacy that the lover unfolds is a practice of an active attention. A focus. An openness.

It opens portals of creation of worlds that I can feel, but the connections are still in darkness.