Julie Rafalski

Images and Stories

In Italo Calvino's The Castle of Crossed Destinies, travelers meet by chance in an inn and tell stories of their lives. They don't tell these stories using words (as they lost their power of speech having entered the inn). Instead each traveler places tarot cards, one by one, on a table, thus creating a narrative between the subsequent images. The other travelers then guess what the storyteller is trying to say. The narrative that forms, is then a supposition of what the storyteller intends, as there is no other communication between the travelers. Each narrative is more revealing of the listeners than of the person telling their tale.

The possibility of other stories told with a selected set of tarot cards are endless. One can replace the set with another set, or change their order or even leave them exactly as they are but interpret them in a different way.

When looking at old books, photographs or postcards, I like to think of them as Calvino's tarot cards and think of what other stories could be told about this image (other then what's written in the caption). Each image could become the jumping off point for very different narratives.

Who is the man sitting on the bench reading a newspaper? What is he thinking about? Where will he go in 10 minutes time? In 2 hours time? In 30 years time?

What about the woman at the desk in the left side of the image? What was she doing 15 years ago? What will she be doing the next afternoon? What tale would she tell? And which cards would she use?

What narratives would arise when lining up a string of different images from various books?