Mystery 177 Visions from the Underworld

2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture presents at the X – Bowling Art Center the exhibition: Mystery 177 "Visions from the Underworld" from 3 February to 8 April 2023 (opening: 3/2 at 18:00).

The city of Elefsina will always be known for the Eleusinian Mysteries - the most secretive religious rites in ancient Greece, celebrated annually for almost two millennia (1600 BC - 400 AD). Key figures of Antiquity such as Pythagoras, Plato, Aristophanes, and Cicero who participated in the Mysteries described them as the greatest experience of their lives. Anyone who would reveal specific details of the initiation ceremony could be punished by death. Hence, to this day, the exact nature of the events - which consisted of a pilgrimage from Athens to Elefsina and a secret initiation rite - is shrouded in mystery. During the ceremony, the initiates would drink kykeon, a sacred barley-based drink that contained the fungus ergot, often causing hallucinatory effects. The festivities took place to commemorate the return of Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, goddess of agriculture and fertility, after she was abducted by Hades with whom she eventually fell in love. Vowing to avenge her daughter’s abduction, Demeter rendered the earth sterile, causing drought and famine. As a compromise, Persephone would spend four months with Hades in the underworld - symbolizing the dark, fruitless winter months - and the rest of the year with her mother on Mount Olympus.

Freely borrowing elements from the Eleusinian Mysteries, the group exhibition Visions from the Underworld, curated by The Agprognostic Temple, takes the myth and the secret cult around it as a starting point and way of navigating between parallel universes. It seeks to show the Mysteries’ current-day relevance while opening them up to different voices in a language for the 21st century. The exhibition is set within an architectural construction of a hypercube that references the nearby archaeological site and positions itself between a ruin that could be situated millennia ago or in an indefinable post-apocalyptic future. Once inside, the visitor is invited to embark on a journey of discovery - a symbolic descent to the underworld and back. Throughout the ruins of this Temple, different artworks are dispersed, echoing some of the themes and motives from the Mysteries - the cycle of death and rebirth, fertility and mortality, initiation rites and rituals, hallucinations and visions - as well as a general penchant for the occult, obscure and psychedelic.

Announcement: Due to national mourning, the exhibition will not be open from 1 to 3 March 2023.

© John Stathis

© John Stathis

© John Stathis

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