Artist Floris Schönfeld shows new work in ARTIS-Park

– April 15, 2024

The new multi-channel video installation 'UMWELT ARTIS' will be on display at ARTIS-Park near the Robbenzaal from 22 May. The video is an exploration of the diverse experiences of life forms encountered in ARTIS-Park. It is the result of an intensive residency period in ARTIS by visual artist Floris Schönfeld, in collaboration with cameraman John Treffer.

Can we imagine the lived experience of other life forms? Schönfeld's new work explores the limits of the human ability to empathize with the experiences of others: from animals and plants to humans and machines. Schönfeld: 'When you embrace that the world is not just centred on humans, it really becomes a different place and then you start exploring that place.' In the installation in the Robbenzaal visitors experience the multitude of life in ARTIS from a new perspective, one in which the lines between distinct beings start to fade.

Caroline Verweij, head of Education, Art & Heritage at ARTIS: 'UMWELT ARTIS is a reflection on our relationship with nature and technology. It invites audiences to think about how we relate to other species. Something increasingly important at a time of biodiversity loss.'


The ARTISt-in-Residence project is a biennial collaboration between ARTIS and the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, in which a Rijksakademie alumnus is given the opportunity and resources to create new work in ARTIS-Park for a period of time. From March to November 2023, Schönfeld had a studio in one of the Salmhuisjes. The artist could mostly be found in the park, where he built up an extensive audiovisual archive with cameraman John Treffer.

At ARTIS-Groote Museum, a showcase exhibition in the East Hall will give visitors an insight into Schönfeld's working period at ARTIS until the end of May. Schönfeld: 'During the residency, John and I were able to work very intensively with the animal and plant caretakers in ARTIS. With their extensive knowledge of the animals and plants, we were able to go much deeper into the experiences of the many creatures in the park. We developed a series of play objects with embedded mini camera’s that we used to develop a unique visual language from the animal’s and plant’s imagined perspectives.'

Natura Artis Magistra and the Rijksakademie

The importance ARTIS (in full: Natura Artis Magistra) has attached to art since its foundation in 1838 is encapsulated in its name: 'nature is the teacher of art and science'. Since the 19th century, Rijksakademie artists have sought out the park to draw and sculpt. ARTIS also lent animal skeletons, among other things, for studies at the Rijksakademie. The current collaboration is a contemporary interpretation of the centuries-old bond between the two neighbouring institutions.

About the artist

Floris Schönfeld (born 1982) is a visual artist and filmmaker based in Amsterdam. He is fascinated by different perspectives and the possibilities of getting close to the experiences of others. In recent years, his focus has shifted from human to non-human experiences. Schönfeld holds a BA in Time Based Arts from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, an MA ArtScience from the Royal Academy of Art The Hague and an MFA in studio practice from the California College of Arts in San Francisco.  He was a resident at the Rijksakademie in 2016 and 2017.

For the project, Schönfeld is working intensively with cameraman John Treffer (born 1979), with whom he has already done many projects. Treffer studied VAV at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and master of film at the Film Academy. John Treffer's own work focuses on animals living in human environments. His work has been screened at various film festivals and broadcasters, including Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen and National Geographic.