Elephant in the Dark
The title of the exhibition is derived from the story of the Blind Men and an Elephant which crosses between many traditional cultures around the world.
In this tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. However, each one feels a different part and only one part. Later when they compared their experiences, they were in complete disagreement of what an elephant was like. The story implies that although someone’s experience can be true, those separated experiences are limited and do not account for the totality of the truth.
MAFA presented a collective interpretation of the Blind Men and an Elephant. Each of us has encountered different parts of the‘Seeking Refuge’ experience, and through our creativity, we present different experiences in search for the truth.
“In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement. The stories differ primarily in how the elephant’s body parts are described, how violent the conflict becomes and how (or if) the conflict among the men and their perspectives is resolved.
In some versions, they stop talking, start listening and collaborate to “see” the full elephant. When a sighted man walks by and sees the entire elephant all at once, the blind men also learn they are all blind. While one’s subjective experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth. If the sighted man was deaf, he would not hear the elephant bellow.
It has been used to illustrate a range of truths and fallacies; broadly, the parable implies that one’s subjective experience can be true, but that such experience is inherently limited by its failure to account for other truths or a totality of truth. At various times the parable has provided insight into the relativism, opaqueness or inexpressible nature of truth, the behaviour of experts in fields where there is a deficit or inaccessibility of information, the need for communication, and respect for different perspectives.”
I was inspired by this parable for MAFA’s second exhibition. I thought after using the Simorgh metaphor for introducing MAFA, it was time to define our character. I see MAFA as the sighted man who is going to resolve the conflict of asylum seekers issue. Due to the language barrier their voice is often not heard. MAFA is asking everyone to “see” the full elephant in the light. At the moment “Seeking Refuge” is becoming an Elephant hidden in the dark.
The exhibition was launched at the Coburg Townhall Foyer, 90 Bell Street Coburg, Melbourne on Friday 4 December 2015.
You can read the original story from the below link: