The term White Elephant originally derives from a South East Asian custom, where a monarch would give an albino elephant to people who would stand in his disfavour. Because this animal was regarded sacred and was not allowed to be put to work, the high costs of just feeding it would eventually ruin the owner.
Based on this tradition a White Elephant has become a term for anything that might be too expensive to maintain but too valuable to discard. In architecture a White Elephant would be, for example, a building which has been build but which has never been used, because the costs to run it turned out to be actually higher than the profits it would bring. Most cities, especially Berlin, are full of these places that remain unused or abandoned due to financial droughts or a general lack of public or commercial interest.
The White Elephant Collective is a Berlin based international artists group that specializes in these unique but forgotten places of a city. Our goal is to find, investigate and eventually reactivate these locations through site specific exhibitions and events.