The installation by Christoph & Sebastian Mügge invites us to explore a quirky tavern that blends ancient and modern, sacred and profane, real and fake. Let us encounter the fascinating collections of Tony Aristotle, an eccentric Athenian whose obsession with excellence and optimisation drove him to collect everything from ancient artefacts to modern tech, from genuine wisdom to artificial myths and internet junk. Hidden among the displays are the hilarious and disconcerting scams of fake motivational gurus who use Greek philosophy to lure people into their traps. They promise a better life through easy tricks like passive income, yoga, astrology, and new age spirituality, capitalising on society’s fixation with self-improvement. Yet, this relentless pursuit of happiness often comes at the cost of our mental health, with stress levels at a dangerous high.
The exhibition not only raises awareness about the exploitation of people’s needs and desires for personal growth and improvement but also questions the validity and relevance of Greek philosophy in today’s world and culture. Furthermore, it seeks to create a humorous and ironic contrast between ancient Greek civilisation, contemporary Athens, and our digital society, asking which phenomena will endure the test of time. As we leave behind an incredible amount of trash, wisdom, nonsense, and fake news, will the viral hits of TikTok influencers and best-selling self-help eBooks replace ancient knowledge and be cited by devoted scholars in thousands of years? How many likes will Socrates get then?
Sebastian and Christoph Mügge are German-born artists who now reside in Sweden. Sebastian completed his MFA degree at Umeå Academy of Fine Arts in 2011, while Christoph studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and earned his diploma in 2013. As a duo they realize large-scale site-specific projects based on a combination of found material and their own distinct styles in a variety of techniques. Their exhibitions explore themes such as how conflict affects our everyday lives, the physical and digital traces we leave behind when we die, the challenge of storytelling and the distortion of historical facts. Humour and alternative facts are interwoven with real facts, blurring the lines between truth and fiction.
It is worth noting that on Saturday, 30 September, a public discussion between the artists and Erifili Veneri took place at Space52. On the very day of the opening of their exhibition, this event highlighted the importance of personal growth and improvement, while challenging the Greek philosophy in the contemporary world and culture.
With the kind support of The Swedish Arts Grants Committee