The series “The Morphology of fish” explores the frugal insides of various species of both salt and freshwater fish. These filamentous protein treads, known as ‘gills’, enable to transfer of water and exchanges of gasses and are of crucial function in the lives of these underwater creatures. The series of over 38 gills show how natural selection equipped these aquatic animals with their own optimised version of a filtering system, albeit with a delicacy and grandeur that seems to depict the elegance of the late golden age.
Being a strict ‘materialist’ in her practice, Mandy den Elzen approaches her raw materials with a vocabulary that speaks of ‘lined with tiny pleats’ and ‘wavy ruffles’. Which brings to the foreground an affectionate relationship with the tactile properties of these living structures. A being with the material that is both intimate and attentive, but also, at the same time, meticulous and precise. Placing her practice and methodology in close connection with the exploratory notion of scientists and taxonomists.
Whilst her aesthetic gestures and intense natural focus bare resemblance to the Romantic area and exhibits are presented within a natural historical context, den Elzen’s approach is, in itself, almost animalistic. She deconstructs her subjects by hand, taking apart the fleshy parts, and unwanted blooded tissue in order to reveal its hidden existence.
On encountering the works of den Elzen it is impossible not to see the hand of the maker. For the inner beings of these animals can only be obtained by the hand of man. It is only by immersing yourself with gore and matter that you can uncover the materialistic properties of our natural world.
text by Rosalie Bak
Collection Sofacq gallery
Prospects and Concepts, Stipendium for Emerging Artists Mondriaan Fonds
350 x 250 x 200 cm
1 april 2021