Next week Elephant is opening its first project space, Elephant West (so named because it’s in West London). Here are some ideas we’re currently playing with to make the launch party go with a swing.

Baptiste Virot Elephant West launch
Illustration by Baptiste Virot

1) If you’re called Elephant, you should do something with actual elephants, surely? So, in the week prior to the opening, fill Elephant West with our namesake mammals, then on the evening of the launch release them into the street. A stampede should get the party started. Alternatively, if Health & Safety concerns make this impossible, remodel the façade of the building to resemble an elephant and mount the whole thing on wheels. When all the guests are in, close the doors, release the brakes and start rolling towards the river. Tonight we take the Tate!

2) Since we’re called Elephant West, we could instead invite lots of famous guests with the name of West: Dominic West; Mae West; Adam West (Batman; superheroes always welcome). Some are dead so may not come. To compensate, perhaps we could install, and invite guests to lounge on, associated furniture: e.g., Dalí’s “Mae West Lips” sofa.

3) If insufficient Wests are available, invite people whose names rhyme with West: Pete Best; Tino Best; George Best. Or keep the rhyming idea but use it to introduce a performative element: e.g., re-enact the discovery of the Marie Celeste; plant a flag in Mount Everest; rob a bank and avoid arrest; get everyone to wear a high-viz vest. Whatever course we take, do it with zest.

4) Ask Kanye West to play a live set. Will Kim come too? Jay-Z? The Donald, even? The presence of the controversial US President would certainly draw media attention and allow us to test the dictum “all publicity is good publicity”.

5) Play our theme tune—a mash-up of “Nellie the Elephant” and “Go West” by Village People—until nausea sets in.

6) Get the West Ham first team to have a kickabout in the street outside. Football is the beautiful game, so ideally suited to an art event. (Problem: despite their name West Ham are actually an East London outfit. West Ham is only “west” relative to East Ham, but in the larger scheme of things—my scheme of things, the only scheme that matters—it is in the east. Should they change their name to West East Ham, or East West Ham if they prefer, to prevent confusion?

7) Elephant West is on the site of a decommissioned petrol station. Many of the iconic petrol-station elements will remain in situ. Should we take advantage of this and serve drinks to guests through the petrol pumps? We could get the VIPs to enter through the car wash and—here’s a wheeze—switch it on to give them an extra thrill. We want this to be an unforgettable event.

8) Food will be luxurious and plentiful: tree bark, grasses, bushes and a side order of fruit. True elephants wouldn’t graze on anything else. Seven billion sapiens on the planet and counting: the future is vegan, you know.

9) In the spirit of the petrol station, make it a drive-in event. Guests have to stay in their cars while we fill their engines and serve them Elephant Happy Meals. Maybe we’ll screen a classic drive-in-style movie: Zoolander has a great petrol-station scene. Or maybe, if we want to go all artworld-moody, we’ll project images of Edward Hopper paintings of gas stations and create a sense of isolation and melancholy.

10) Hold the afterparty in the Centre for Elephant Care at Whipsnade Zoo (where our logo was born). Use chimps as waiters.

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