So many people throughout my life have told me who I am, what I must do, what I can’t do, what I have to complete, and what I will never be able to accomplish… and then I met the Goddess.
Rhea Silvia was the mythical mother of the twins Romulus and Remus, who founded the city of Rome. Her father, the king of Alba Longa, was dethroned by his brother Amulius, who appointed Rhea Silvia a Vestal Virgin, hoping that by consigning her to perpetual virginity, she would not bear any children.
Vesta was worshipped as the goddess of the hearth, home, and domestic affairs. The main task of her priestesses, the Vestal Virgins, was to tend to a perpetual fire in her shrine in the Roman Forum – this was believed to protect Rome as a vital element for the well-being of the city.
As Silvia one day went into the sacred grove, to draw water for the service of the goddess, a wolf met her, and she fled into a cave for safety; there, while a total eclipse obscured the sun, Mars seduced and overpowered her. When her time came, she gave birth to the twins Romulus and Remus. She was doomed for breaking her vow of chastity and drowned in the river Tiber.
I’ve always had a fascination for mythology and find constant inspiration in ancient legends from all over the world. In this shoot with the amazing Simon Yin, I imagined a different fate for Rhea Silvia, where she reclaims her power and independence, fights her sexist uncle and builds the city of Rome from the sacred fire of Vesta.
This shoot wasn’t easy. On top of the obvious camera technicalities, we had some extra challenges. The Pantheon – as all major religious buildings in Roma – has 24hr police surveillance. We were patient. We lurked a lot. It was also freezing cold and we had limited amounts of lyco. It was a very focussed, hit and run affair. It was much fun and we did it for love ❤️
Many thanks to Simon and Hao for being game on this guerrilla mission.