Text by Rhona MacGuire and Emmelie, NMAG Amsterdam
Photos courtesy of Artis, the artist, Maureen ter Mors and Edwin Butter


Last Wednesday, No Man’s Art Gallery Amsterdam team was invited to Artis Zoo to view the newest additions to its collection. Rather than a new animal though, Artis is adding art to its collection. In commemoration of Artis’ 175th birthday, the South Korean artist Min Kim donated one large artwork and two smaller works depicting the elephants Thong Tai and Mumba who currently reside at the zoo. Min Kim had never been to Artis Zoo or even the Netherlands before, but was inspired when she heard that the elephant Thong Tai had been pregnant and finally given birth to her calf Mumba in 2011. The artistic donation is illustrative of the birthday wishes of the zoo; for its 175th birthday, Artis is asking the public to contribute to the construction of a new elephant accommodation.

Originally from South Korea, Min Kim currently works and lives in London and studies at the Slade School of Fine Art at UCL. She has been active in the art world through her participation in many shows and projects such as the ‘Art as Life Show’ based in Seoul, as well as winning awards including the Peter and Betty McLean Prize 2012. Kim transported the works from London herself, including the largest canvas titled ‘The Sea Close 1’. Kim told us she had to walk 7 kilometers to get to Artis, because no bus would take her and her 3-meter rolled up canvas.

The largest work titled ‘The Sea Close 1’ now hangs appropriately in the historical auditorium at Artis. The most striking component when viewing the work is the elephant’s ears, as well as the large size that almost mirrors the true size of the elephant. The lines sculpting the ears and face emphasise these forms, nonetheless this dissipates towards the end of the trunk and legs of the elephant as the lines eventually fade out, almost allowing the trunks and legs to meld into one, while once again drawing the viewer’s attention to the face and ears. Looking at the ears, one gets the feeling of anticipation. It is almost like we are waiting for something to happen. Funnily enough, talking to Kim she explains that waiting is exactly what ears are symbolic for. A reference to her body of work can be made, as the previous project that she worked on was titled ‘Waiting’. That time, the theme was represented by a stack of drawings of a balloon, including the inside of that balloon.

The artworks by Min Kim at Artis Zoo can be described as simple, elegant and powerful. Her works provide a day at the zoo not only for observing wild animals but also for the viewing of great art. Do check out her other work on her website www.min-kim.com,

Donate to the construction of a new elephant accommodation at www.artis.nl/olifanten



Min Kim with The Sea Close 1, at the auditorium on
the Artis Zoo premises.



 Min Kim with The Sea Close 1, at the auditorium on
the Artis Zoo premises.