The exploration of the digestive system of a cow

In this series, den Elzen uses the four stomach compartments of a cattle; the rumen, reticulum, omasum and the abomasum. Each of the stomach compartments has a specific function in the digestive process and therefore they have different shapes and textures. The reticulum is, for example, lined with ridges that form a honeycomb-like structure, which can capture and retain dense particles of feed or indigestible objects. And the omasum is characterized by the large number of leaf-like folds, which provide a bigger surface for fluid absorption. In nature, the form is always determined by its function, and this honesty of form, these structures determined by biological processes and necessities, is an inexhaustible source of inspiration to her.

When the preservation process begins, the works immediately shift from being about the specific animals to being a display of her fascination with the diverse and profound qualities in material found in nature. Through her treatment of the materials, den Elzen brings out the characteristics and properties which intrigue her, and by doing so she shows both her fascination with and respect for nature and its inherent structures.

Text by Lise Sinbeck

Castle d’Ursel & Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp