Conflictorium ‘Elephant in the Room’

2021 - 2023

Part of Our House, your Home

Elephant in the Room is a project by Conflictorium - Museum of Conflict in India in collaboration with Stroom. It is the conclusion of our long-running program Our House, your Home, for which international organizations are invited to take over the Stroom exhibition space, or to do other things they find most urgent, fitting, or challenging.

On Wednesday 30 August 2023, Stroom Den Haag and Platform BK organized a program entitled A Call to Open Calls exploring the accessibility and transparency of the so-called ‘open calls' in the art world. 
Click here for a report of the event.

The aim of Elephant in the Room is to initiate conversations on art infrastructures and the way open calls work within the art world. The result is a publication featuring around 70 artists and art writers from India who over the past four years have applied for, but have repeatedly been rejected for financial or other forms of support. In December 2021 Conflictorium issued a 'closed call' for applications, just asking for the name and contact details of the artists and writers, accompanied by two or more rejection letters. Conflictorium and Stroom see the project as a gesture of solidarity and at the same time a critical examination of how 'open calls' within the art world actually work. Can there be an open call that goes beyond the boundaries of its own network? How can we - as art and culture organisations - be more honest with the culture of so-called "open" calls?

The name of the project Elephant in the Room refers to the English phrase describing a major problem or controversial issue which is obviously present but is avoided as a subject for discussion. Conflictorium sees the project as "an attempt to move away from a merit based aesthetical discourse and pave the way for assertive and self-representational aesthetics of the multitudes of Indian experiences with/in the existent arts infrastructures".

Elephant in the Room - Concept note by Conflictorium
Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the already present extremely vulnerable futurities of the Indian Arts and Culture ecosystem: lack of mutual support systems, gatekeeping of networks and most importantly, decreased or diverted grants and funding opportunities.
The onset of the Covid-19 wave in India has forced many artists out of their practices, and has led (especially smaller, alternative, vernacular) Art institutes to shut temporarily or amend their organizational goals. It is becoming more evident that the India Arts is in an urgent need of retrospection of its infrastructures and economies of kinship and community building.
We also believe that this crisis of infrastructure is not limited to the Indian Arts and is a symptom of the Global Arts practices wherein financial grant giving is often a modus operandi of signalling and furthering kinships - thereby structurally invisibilizing art and culture workers that do not make it to these networks.

About Conflictorium
Conflictorium is a unique, participatory museum in Ahmadabad, India, that looks at many different aspects of conflict. The Conflictorium team consists of five staff members all under the age of thirty five. Since its founding in 2013, they've explored questions of identity, gender and marginalisation. They reach out to schools, universities and communities and design all of their activities and even the set-up of the museum to appeal to young people and draw as many as possible into the discussion.

Our House, your Home
Conflictorium is the fifth guest in Stroom Den Haag's experimental program Our House, your Home, for which we invite international organizations to take over our exhibition space, and/or to do the things they find most urgent, fitting, or challenging. Our earlier guests were: Visual Culture Research Center from Kyiv (Ukraine), left gallery, online platform based in Berlin (Germany), Languid Hands from London (United Kingdom) and The Nest Collective from Nairobi (Kenya).

Elephant in the Room is a collaboration between Conflictorium and Stroom Den Haag and is supported by Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, Mondriaan Fund and the City of The Hague.

The book 'Elephant in the Room'
photo: Stroom Den Haag
The book 'Elephant in the Room'
photo: Stroom Den Haag
Closed Call Conflictorium