Why the Villa of the Mysteries, you might ask? The reference to it kept popping up as we created an earlier installation called “The Enigma of 4 am” in 2014. We were surprised by the pyscho-sexual overtones that surfaced in that work quite inadvertently, and we thought maybe it was its centerpiece, a dining room table and chairs, that had conjured up a hint of the Villa and the association with it’s frescoes. We were intrigued, but we put it on the back burner to examine more closely at some future point.
And when we did, a bigger question turned out to be, not WHY the Villa, but WHAT about that Villa? From what perspective, what aspect, what point of view do we approach it? Would we deal exclusively with the frescoes and their subject matter, presumably a secret ritual where a young bride-to-be is initiated, enabling her to enter into a “mystical” marriage with Dionysus? Or, would we concentrate on the effect and influence the Villa of the Mysteries has had on the individual consciousness and on popular culture since its discovery and excavation over a century ago, including Freud and Hollywood?
The former, we agreed on, was too narrow a focal point for us, and the latter seemed too broad. We were both most interested in viewing the ruins from the perspective of a time and place in the future looking back into a past that had been disrupted - coincidentally a word and concept that is much heard in conversation today. We were interested, it turns out, in examining and creating a mirror in time, a wormhole, a simultaneity of the familiar and the foreign.