How Punic Mythology Inspired Miguel Soler-Roig’s Dreamlike Series of Underwater Portraits

Miguel Soler-Roig, Pink Silk. Courtesy of the artist.

The women in Miguel Soler-Roig’s photographic series “Atlantis & Posidonia” look otherworldly, like mermaids or sea goddesses. Shot underwater and lit from the spectral sun above, they seem to dance in a field of dark blue, a long veil trailing them.

Inspired by the island of Es Vedrà in Ibiza and the Punic moon goddess who, according to legend, oversees its shores, the series is on view now at The Room Studio, the gallery of the Barcelona-based interior design studio, Meritxell Ribe.

Soler-Roig shared with us his influences for the body of work, including mythic deities and the untimely loss of a close friend.

Miguel Soler-Roig. Photo: Joachim Hildebrand.

“The series ‘Atlantis & Posidonia’ arises from an avid interest in the myths and legends that surround the monolithic island of Es Vedrà in Ibiza, as weIl as its unquestionable beauty and aesthetic appeal. I’ve spent many summers in Ibiza; this big rock has always acted as a magnet, inviting me to discover it and to immerse myself in its depths, both natural and wild. Those who have inhabited it say that it is a magical place with special powers.

I had a friend, who, like me, loved the island of Ibiza. From a very young age he spent summers aboard his father’s ship. The years passed and finally he managed to acquire a property on the island. He called me one day to show me what was going to be the final project of his life, a house by the sea with a small private beach. He died there, at the end of the summer five years ago. In his honor and in the memory of his reminiscence I decided to write a script for an opera, which I have entitled Atlantis & Posidonia. These images are the prelude of this project. I know he would have liked it and it is the artistic legacy that will survive him, like the children he always wanted to have.

Miguel Soler-Roig, Posidonia deep dance. Courtesy of the artist.

Legend has it that the island of Es Vedrá is the home of mermaids and sea nymphs. It is also considered to be the holy island home of Tanit, the Punic moon goddess who became the patron of Ibiza. Her background can be traced back to the Phoenician goddess Astarte, the Sumerian Inanna, or the Babylonian Ishtar. All of them were goddesses of fertility and carnal pleasures, although their cults evolved to become especially bloody. As goddesses of war it was necessary to appease their anger with the lives of animals and enemies, and as such, the myth says that specific sacrifices were made to Tanit during the full moons on the shores of Es Vedrá. She was represented with veils, which sensually highlighted her feminine characteristics. Her cult spread throughout the Mediterranean, as well as her symbolism.

Miguel Soler-Roig, Atlantis & Posidonia. Courtesy of the artist.

The beauty of this place, and the haunting suggestion of its myths, prompted me to develop a project that I had been wanting for years: a series of photographs underwater, with all the complexity that comes with working only with natural light. The subtlety of the veils and the astral force of the moon is enhanced by the element of water, where women can widely deploy their eroticism. Floating between two universes, the women let themselves be carried by the medium that welcomed them. To submerge women in seawater means to bathe them in purity; it preserves them in their splendor as contemporary deities.”

— Miguel Soler-Roig, 2018


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