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Reversal of Fortune

Kunin considers this photograph less a spiritual work than a kind of political cartoon. But although the subject matter is contemporary, based as it is on the 2008 financial meltdown, its underpinnings are decidedly classical.

Kunin modeled the upside-down figure on a character in the tarot deck called The Hanged Man, who is obviously in crisis, hanging from a sort of gallows, as we all were in late 2008.

If you were to receive this reading from a fortuneteller, however, you would not hear endless talk of impending doom. The fortuneteller would gaze at the cards and admit that your fortunes had turned 180 degrees, but then would talk about sacrifice, surrender, letting go. The tarot figure has also been associated with Christ’s crucifixion, which of course carries within it a hopeful message: Resurrection awaits.

Kunin was especially inventive when constructing this piece. She photographed cash and then dropped the images individually into the Hanged Man image in Photoshop. The man’s buttons are made out of coins, also dropped in individually. To create the nimbus behind the man’s head, Kunin actually placed her camera lens up to the peephole of a kaleidoscope and shot away.

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