The Elephant in the Room?

EITR graphic

A two day event of talks and screenings held at Open School East on December 10 and at RCA on December 11 2015.

The Elephant in the Room? aims to address the issue of social inequality in the art world. Above all it will be asked “What is it to talk about class inequality in the art world in 2015?

Low pay and a lack of meritocracy perpetuate a field that is hierarchical and closed to many people of lower social rank. We must tackle these problems at a local level while condemning, for example, the alleged poor working and living conditions of migrant workers building the Louvres and Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi. We can’t even begin to claim the moral high ground within the art world if we don’t start by cleaning up art world practices first. The success of political art and ‘artivism’ will depend on the ability of the art world to address its own power dynamics and the inequalities which arise from them.

Speakers have been invited to approach the topic from their own background, contributing to a discussion on meritocratic values within the field of artistic production, reception and display. It is hoped that the tripartite social class system (i.e. lower, middle and upper class) can be supplemented with recourse to issues of non-class based wealth inequality, race, gender and sexuality.

Ultimately it will be asked whether a new ‘universal class’ can be formed from an alliance of dissafected and underpivileged workers, students and unemployed people from across the social spectrum? What role would the art world have in that process?

Organized by Mike Watson (curator), and co-curators Gloria Lin, Dorian Batycka, Seemab Gul.

Please RSVP to the link here.

6.30pm- 9pm with drinks from 9-10pm.



Introduction by Mike Watson / Opening statements to Event

6.40 pm

Speaksers: Ralph Dorey & Pil and Galia Kollectiv


Films (in order of screening):

Fiamma Montezemolo


15 minutes (Spanish with English subtitles), 2014

Echo is an experimental ethnographic research and video-essay on the afterlife and “echoes” of  nine artworks. Originally presented as part of inSite, an organisation active between Tijuana and San Diego from 1992-2005, Echo helps identify the role of the artist in tackling socio-economic issues.

Alessandro Rolandi


15 minutes, 2011

Rolandi’s POV captures the scopophilia of our contemporary moment. It eroticizes the politics of looking into an everyday mise en scene, which can be seen to represent a banal, commonplace and domesticated still life. The film juxtaposes the role of POV in structuring the politics of looking, seeing and being in the world.

Channa Boon

Et in arcadia ego

30 minutes, 2015

In Channa Boon’s Et in Arcadia Ego, the artist and filmmaker makes visible the heritage of Stalin’s totalitarian power across the entire band of countries situated between Russia and Western Europe, using an analogy drawn from the popular game of chess. For its entire length, the film follows a chess game, played by two residents of Odessa, Ukraine, sitting near the city’s Arcadia Beach.

Oliver Ressler and Ana Pecar

In the Red

10 minutes, 2014

In the Red is a film about the Strike Debt group, an offshoot organisation of Occupy Wall Street in New York City. The group organizes around debts, an instrument of control and maintenance of economic power. Strike Debt initiates several activities to expose hidden mechanisms of financial capitalism.