Dr. Gerald Meier
The fact that STOA169 takes for itself the precedent of Greek antiquity places a high demand on the entire project. For what was considered in the Geistesgeschichte or “history of ideas” 2000 years ago as a model of success, in terms of a columned hall as a distinguished place of thinking, is now to be carried over into an eminent chamber for our times. A hub of philosophy then, a focal point for art now.
The notion of connecting this artistic project to the conceptual world of Stoic philosophy is clearly not a random decision, for it does not concern the hall as such but, rather, what occurs in it and because of it.
The ancient Greek stoa was a place in which thinking, learning and teaching took place. Its effect was attributed to people having gathered there not for the purpose of receiving enlightenment, but instead to gain conclusive, i.e. true, understandings through contentious reasoning.
A convincing insight would in ideal cases, therefore, take those participating in such discourse on a path to knowledge. This knowledge pertained to the destiny of man, that is, to wisdom, which, in turn, was the reason for an individual’s calm ethical attitude, and which elevated him to a condition of liberation or bliss. The remit of the Stoic school was also, naturally, to preserve wisdom logically and rhetorically.
Thus at the core of Stoic thought is the familiar notion of an individual’s “peace of mind”: a calm which stems from the self-knowledge that man belongs to an order, a cosmos, in which everything is interconnected, is comprised of the same material, and follows one truth.
Nowadays, however, the opposite is increasingly desired. Wisdom and self-awareness are terms that barely play a role. Instead, scenarios of self-preservation are mainstream: the call for demarcation and marginalisation, disharmony and the radical repudiation of an “entirety” which connects everyone and everything, finds many a sympathetic ear. The negative political and social consequences hit the headlines on a daily basis.
STOA169 takes the example of antiquity and with it designs a modern version of a colonnade that stands in the way of present-day slogans. It invites us, as it were, to come into it, offering a unique place of diversity within a single integer.
STOA169 aims to be just this: a free place in which knowledge about the entirety of nature and mankind can emerge, inspired by artists who allow their columns to speak. STOA169 wishes to make you think.
Incidentally, the number 169 was arrived at through the idea of creating the hall as a quadrate and arranging the columns therewithin in a configuration of 13 by 13.