Den Elzen Mandy - The Morphology of Fish
2016 - 38 Fish gills under glass bells - variable dimensions
Particularly interested in tactile properties of organic structures, Mandy den Elzen brings to light aesthetic side of natural wonders. Her practice may be characterised as combining intense and precise fieldwork with developing comprehensive and meticulous preservation methods. Intrigued by nature’s ingenuity, Mandy den Elzen separates organic material from its original functions and transforms its raw forms into displayable and compelling artworks. Employing scientific-like approach, the artist rigorously selects internal organs of various animals and subjects them to a series of scrupulous actions. As a result, the organic materials alter their appearance and become unique and enigmatic objects seducing the viewers with their extraordinary shape, texture, tactility, and colour. Functioning like a microcosm encased in glass, Mandy den Elzen’s artwork sparks interest in its origins and reminds viewers of Renaissance cabinets of curiosities. The assemblies of collectable wonders that Mandy den Elzen creates not only manifest artist’s passion for nature and its aesthetics but also stimulate viewers’ imagination and encourage contemplation of hidden aspects of living organisms. While primarily focusing on the physical properties of diverse materials, Mandy den Elzen’s approach unites the ones of an artist, morphologist and taxonomist. Depriving inner organs of their original biological functions, the artist reveals their aesthetic qualities and juxtaposes sublimity and beauty of nature with cultural connotations of distance and aversion. What remains vital to her when dealing with the organic material is the full control of and hands-on commitment to the creative process. She personally explores slaughterhouses and fish markets, selects specimens boasting uncommon characteristics and applies an exceptional skill set to turn them into captivating objects. Intertwining biology with art and her artwork sheds light on Mother Nature’s hidden treasures and conveys fascination with the natural phenomena typical of the Romantic era. Mandy den Elzen’s works have been exhibited internationally and are included in numerous public and private collections. She is also the recipient of the 2015 Mondriaan Fund Talent Development Grant for Emerging Artists.