E.M. Foster (She/They)
Emily Megan Foster is a writer, performer, and artist based in Glasgow.
They are exceptionally good at making cheese toasties, slightly tormented by personal demons, and have unrequited beef with William Wordsworth. She can be found wandering around Scotland, generally being a menace and more often than not attempting to use art writing to build a reason to exist.
Apathetic Attempts at Empressing
Below are some extracts from my tarot deck ‘Apathetic Attempts at Empressing’, a 78-card deck divided into 22 picture cards (as the major arcana) and 56 written cards.
Apathetic Attempts at Empressing is a tarot deck, it is a
novel, and a documentation. This medicine is used to treat
the following conditions:
Major depressive episodes
Intermittent implosive disorder
Tendency towards fungal growths
Extreme dental avoidance
Plagues of personal demons
Mental ‘goat songs’ and self-obsessive ‘god
This work is performative, to be read as a tarot reading from a dealer to the reader or with the reader taking both roles themselves.
Her form is her occupation, languishing in ambiguous assortment, working in unforetold fragments – the order of her abstracted and meaningless. And yet, she possesses a dual nature. It is IN the laying of the cards, the complex webs and new connections, where meaning is found through handling, through
attention. The Tarot deck has come to represent the rebirth of my practice in action –
work like a Fool,
think like an Empress.
‘The Major Arcana’ Booklet
Earlier today I saw a man pull a cigarette out of his pocket and place it between his lips with a ritual smoothness. I was walking to the Glasgow Subway and there was a beat in which I considered stopping to watch but my feet kept on moving and it was only in my periphery that I saw him catch his mistake. The cigarette was the wrong way round and he was singeing the filter.
I derived such a nugget of momentary joy from this brief encounter, the barest of images in such a slight glance. I find these chance scenes of life compel a documentation within me.
In the ditch that is a Glaswegian winter I began to take pictures of banal, ridiculous and accidental sightings. Anything and everything which dragged the ripple of pleasant emotions through me. Be it discarded fruit, a defaced sign, or a bird with an obscene amount of bread in its beak. I did not conceive of these images as an art form, they were part of a method of survival first. Twenty-two photos that spoke to me while my art practice, tricky creature that it is, refused to utter a sound. Now I lay them between these pages, translated and transformed by my hand in pencil, ink, and charcoal into the Major Arcana of the tarot deck.
They sorted themselves into this journey, the shape, insisting, that while I may not have known it when I found them, they were the cards. A chemical reasoning rather than rational or literal designations as I moved with the intuitive sense of each image as its own card. From this, I submerged myself into the associated feelings of a ‘traditional’ reading as a way to feel my way into the methods of drawing required for a hearty translation.
There is nothing prescriptive within these pages. This is not a ‘how-to guide’ in reading the cards. What follows will be ruminations on experiences, a written response to the moments which sparked something. You may wish to derive a meaning from the stories I tell, a way to relate to the cards and use them for yourself. But, I want you to realise, the ability to read the cards is already within you. I believe this to be a faithful choice to the workings of the Tarot, as the tool of the book with prescribed meaning finds itself in the way to reading the cards as the web they are meant to be. That understanding – you can find it without me and by doing it that way it means something. Not something as in the opposite of nothing but something – intangible and sidestepping lexical definition.
This booklet is an optional appendage. Delving into ‘thingness’ – a gathering of time and an assemblage of objects. I know that the form of the Tarot is a potent vehicle for the writing which is the reanimation of my artistic practice, but I am not using these pages to justify that choice to you. Rather I am letting you just that bit closer to the journey which made this clear to me.
I wish you the best in finding your own reversed cigarettes, stumbling into spellbound sparks of life. They are out there, waiting for you, igniting against odds through the darkness.
What A Lovely Flower Our Bones Make
I am aware, disinterested but aware, of my
ribcage. The lowest rib itching when I turn my
mind’seye too close towards it. I believe that
there is something residing in my bones. A
deep-seated fear that I do not know, one
which will teach me an ironic and
all-important lesson. There are so many
bones which we can feel if we tune into
them. But I wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t
think all our bones have our best interests
at heart. Bone-Hearts what a novel concept.
Creature feature in the integrated whole.
I dance and they dance, and we move.
Together we feel and delicately support.
I want to think the best of them, yet they are
clearly malicious. My rib itches. I want to put
my fingers between them and clean them out.
Grout the tile work. My rib itches. There is a
link missing or a diverted path. Going clank
when I stretch just right. My rib itches.
I have never imagined that my bones are
clean. Instead, in mind space, they are a
sickly yellow and they ooze a sense of
foreboding. To break them open is to
release all the sins into the world. I want
your fingers on my ribs and your thumbs
on my back / And push me and set me
open, ‘til you hear my bones crack.
We struggle to be vulnerable and yet do
not have solid defences. Afraid of exposure
but easily manipulated. These walls are oh
so permeable, but a barrier no matter how
loose will deter some folk. The lowest rib in
the human cage is full of static. A prickling
creature which does not want to be looked at
but hums consistently, drawing your attention.
This resonant vibration setting the internal
screws in motion – we come loose.
Have you spent much time considering the
distortion of bone conduction? – the acoustical
properties of the human skull? The skeleton
inside us and us inside the skeleton. We think
in waves. My rib vibrates with this music. It is
higher than I think, but pleasantly pulses deep
These bones of
ours are curling
Weed roots made
to be insistent
You cannot easily
dig out this
Bug societies are
through the spine
living in the stamen
I was made from man’s rib, and he reminds
me that it was merely borrowed. He came and
burrowed in to take it back.
rEEL yOUR rIPPING rIBS
rIB mY rIP oUT
rIP yOUR rIPS
rIB yOUR rIB iN
rIP yOUR rEELING rIBS
rIP mY rIB oUT