a mirror and a bowl

Silenus, companion of Dionysus, divine principle of ekstasis (standing outside oneself), says – “Look into the silver bowl, and what do you see? Yourself? Or the theatrical mask that you become in the bowl of wine?”. Pompeii, frecsco in the Villa of the Mysteries, second century BCE.

The giant silver bowl in Rotterdam, the new collections open storage depot for Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, now has its mirror skin within which one may see all kind of wonders.

Here below are Peter Delpeut (novelist), Winy Maas (architect), and Sjarel Ex (director) with thoughts on viewing the landscape/cityscape by means of a giant convex mirror. As well as to the stretched image, the panorama, they refer back to an optical instrument, the Claude glass (named after the painter), or black mirror, popular in the eighteenth century and after. This was a small hand-held tinted convex mirror that would accompany the traveler in search of the picturesque. Upon encountering a suitable prospect of a landscape, one would take out the glass, turn one’s back (!) and view the scene in the glass held at one’s shoulder. The convex surface and tint framed and compressed so as to deliver an even more painterly view.

Optics, artistry, encounter/engagement, aesthetics, and transformation.

Source = Depot Journal #3 – [Link]

The panorama in the Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii is appropriately seen as about initiation into a mystery cult of knowledge and insight, that of Dionysus. This is a process of (self) transformation, via intense sensory and revelatory experiences, performance and ritual, seeing into a reality hidden to most, encountered in communion with those who would share.

Ancient archetypes and allegories – [Link]

(Thanks to Gary Devore for another recent marvelous conversation about antiquity, this time specifically about mirrors, or rather the lack of them. Imagine, and in such contrast with today, a world of concern, at least among the wealthy, with self image, when there were only polished metal mirrors (bronze and silver), liquid surfaces, and portraiture (particularly sculpture) with which one might encounter one’s desired, actual, and presented self.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email