The Morphology of Fish: Amsterdam collection

by Mandy den Elzen

2 Nov 2019
26 Oct 2020

In her new installation, Mandy den Elzen shows a collection of fish gills, displayed in our Aquaponics greenhouse. Her work unveils the aesthetic side to an organ, that is normally only seen for its function: breathing. We are opening this exhibition with a collection of 17 gills, which will continue to grow just like the plants and fish around it.


Visitors having a close look at the Morphology of Fish installation -

Nature inside out

Mandy den Elzen is the new artist represented by Mediamatic. For several years, Mandy has been working around the topic of the relationship between humans and animals, the way animals are used by humans, and the way animals are represented our cultures.

In her art practice, Mandy uses pieces of animal bodies and transforms them into artworks. Her aim is to make one overcome the biological function of animal organs, in order to explore their structure and potential beauty. She is inspired by morphology and Aristotle’s biology, based on the observation of the physical characteristics of animals. Based on these scientific references, she chooses organs that to her have the most interesting appearance.
She then processes them, so the organs can last independently from the living animal they used to belong to. She mainly worked on exploring the digestive system of a cow and the respiratory system of fish. Through her fascination she brings out the aesthetic side of these natural wonders.


Two fresh fish gills - Clara Froumenty

A local treasure

For her collaboration with Mediamatic, Mandy focused on fish species that can be found in the waters surrounding the Biotoop by 1 kilometer. Local fisherman Piet Ruijter, who is the only traditional fisherman allowed on these waters, provided various fish species.

The specificity of the fish allows the visitor to learn more about the geography and history of this area in Amsterdam. Indeed, most of those fish are species which can only be found in freshwaters, often in estuaries or coastal waters, just like the IJ river and docks. Some of them are also well known as food products, like bream, cod, perch or whiting. They form a part of the local culture, as fish-based courses are very typical in Dutch cuisine and appreciated for their freshness. Therefore those fish can tell a lot about our local culture and history, in addition to what they reveal regarding environmental science, geography and biology.


The Morphology of Fish by Mandy den Elzen
Open 24/7

Mediamatic Biotoop, Dijkspark 6, Amsterdam
The installation is located alongside the windows of our Aquaponics greenhouse, right next to the harbor and the terras of our restaurant Mediamatic ETEN.

With special thanks to Yanqi Huang and Clara Froumenty.