Co-commissioned by Visual Arts Plymouth CIC and KARST, Lockdown Tarot is a new fortune-telling performance by John Walter using a brand-new deck of cards that he drew during lockdown using the VR software Tilt Brush. This new tarot deck features images from Walter’s repertoire including allusions to art history, popular culture and politics. Lockdown Tarot responds to the current Covid-19 emergency using Walter’s trademark colour, humour and absurdity. Lockdown Tarot is composed of a minor arcana of four suits – the antibodies, vaccines, receptors and masks – and a higher arcana of 22 picture cards. The tarot is an algorithm, a repertoire of 78 images that can be shuffled and arranged into an infinite range of narrative sequences, and an ideal container for Walter’s epic, maximalist aesthetic. Lockdown Tarot demonstrates Walter’s approach to using hospitality as a device for engaging audiences in his ideas and images. The costume that he wears is a form of drag that is jestered as opposed to gendered. Audiences are empowered to ask him and the tarot anything. This leads to memorable and transformative conversations between strangers.
John Walter is a visual artist working across a diverse range of media including painting, moving image, installation, Virtual Reality and curating. His work is characterised by a disarming use of colour, humour and hospitality. Wellcome and Arts Council England have supported his work, and he was awarded the 2016 Hayward Curatorial Open for Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness. The Arts Council Collection and The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool have collected his work.