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Beware Of The Greek Monsters

ATHENS, GREECE -- It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no it’s The Greek Monsters, and they’ve set up house right in the heart of Athens, Greece, attracting curious arts lovers to the Benaki Museum. The Minotaur, the Cyclops, the Stymphalian Birds are all there to remind us that we have nothing to fear… but fear itself.

The unconventional show has been the talk of the town after a group of innovative Greek designers from the northern port city of Thessaloniki put their heads (and talents) together and brainstormed away. The multifaceted outcome took them straight to the top of the design world. Known as the Beetroot Design Group, these 11 designers (as seen in photo 1) took the podium in Essen, Germany, last October after winning one of the sector’s most prestigious awards: the 2011 red dot award for communication design. The prestigious international prize, which has over 11,000 submissions from 61 countries, includes categories for product design, design agencies and design concepts. Winning products are exhibited in the Red Dot Design Museum in Essen.

The Greek red dot “Agency of the Year” looks to Greek mythology for inspiration, drawing on the eternal ideals of ancient Greek philosophy of respect and tolerance. Furthermore, The Greek Monsters come as a political statement of sorts at a time when Greece has been cast into the international spotlight by media and politics as  the “monster” bringing down Europe. For Beetroot, there’s more to this monster than meets the eye. The show comes to eliminate stereotypes, prejudice and generalizations.  

The exhibit is all about combining communication design with show ’n’ tell - the basic idea behind Beetroot’s philosophy. Featuring modern art in all its manifestations: sculptures, installations, idols, hieroglyphic-style sketches, stencil graffiti as well as audio-visual and digital art for the roaming unseen monsters that come to life with the help of “smart” technology, the show was formed on the sidelines of the award ceremony and attempts to redefine myth - an ancient Greek legacy - applying its symbolism to modern-day reality. (as see in photos 2, 3, 4)

After Germany, The Greek Monsters - curated by director and set designer Paris Mexis - settled down in Greece’s largest independent museum, where lots of work was done to showcase the beautiful beasts. Each art piece includes details about their creation, their history, as well as poetic extracts explaining the symbolism or philosophy behind their imposing presence. (as seen in photos 4, 5)

The exhibit is to a large extent based on the design company’s illustration for the book “The Misunderstood Monsters of Greek Mythology” by Anastasia Tentokali, about the mythological anti-heroes that have for centuries captivated readers far and wide. (as seen in photo 7) The monsters feature in the myths as we know these but come to tell us their side of the story… as mavericks, unpredictable and adventurous.

The show is set to travel abroad in the fall.

Photos 1- 7 courtesy of Beetroot and The Benaki Museum