What’s on in Brussels: Fake For Real

The latest exhibition at the House of European History is Fake For Real.

The exhibition is a history of forgery and counterfeiting – exploring the world of forgeries, lies, and counterfeits.

There’s nothing new about forgery and counterfeiting, and the exhibition showcases examples of the art throughout history – from antiquity to the present day.

The design of the exhibition encourages visitors to question the information presented to them, to think about how lies are told and the purpose of lies.

“We have to be aware that sometimes we want to be deceived, in order to be able to transcend our daily lives, to dream…” explains Joanna Urbanek – curator of the exhibition. “It is human to believe in certain counterfeits. But this inclination can be exploited and the consequences can be far-reaching.”

Divided into six distinct themes, and presented chronologically, the exhibition includes 200 separate items that each tells a story of forgery and deception – from the erased records of Roman emperors, manipulated biographies of medieval saints, stories of voyages that never happened, to a fake army used by the Allies in WWII.

Items exhibited also include documents of crucial importance in our history – such as the donation from Constantine and the letters used to accuse Dreyfus.

All of them demonstrate that personal emotions and beliefs influence how we want to understand the world, or deliberately represent it to ourselves in a distorted way.

Communication on the Covid-19 pandemic and the misinformation surrounding it is also discussed in the exhibition. The term “disinfodemic” is a timely reminder that truths and untruths constantly circulate, and that critical thinking and civic action are valuable guardians against deception.

The final section of the exhibition, titled “An Era of Post-Truth?” is an interactive space of games and videos where visitors can become fact-checkers, decide what gets published, and play with a “filter bubble” that explores how social media works.

Find out more about the Fake For Real exhibition at the House of European History