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Mca Collection

MCA Collection: Today Tomorrow Yesterday

01 Sep - 31 Dec


The National 2017

30 Mar - 18 Jun


Kader Attia

12 Apr - 30 Jul

– Learning Events


Weaving Workshop/ Booked out

03 Jun, 10.30am, Level 2: Seminar Room



03 Jun, 6.00pm, Level 3: National Centre for Creative Learning



04 Jun, 9.00am, Level 4: Sculpture Terrace

– News from inside the MCA

Handfed: no cutlery required

Why do some cultures prefer to eat with their bare hands while others use knives, forks or chopsticks? more

Farewell Linda Marrinon Artist Room

We bid a fond farewell to Linda Marrinon’s Artist Room more

Zines, zines, zines

'It can be what you want it to be’. Stallholders at the 2017 MCA Zine Fair say it how it is. more

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MCA Collection

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Collection Artist Interviews

Watch our latest interviews in the MCA Video Portal

Joint acquisitions by MCA and Tate

The Program promotes Australian art globally, helping Australian artists reach new audiences.

Komar & Melamid: When Elephants Paint

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


21 Jun 2001 to 19 Aug 2001

Curator: Russell Storer

about the exhibition

When Elephants Paint was an exhibition of paintings created by elephants from The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project (AEACP), an initiative by New York-based Russian conceptual artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid.

The AEACP was established by Komar and Melamid in 1997 as a means of raising awareness around the declining numbers of Asian elephants in countries such as Thailand, India and Indonesia. Komar and Melamid began a program of teaching elephants, in collaboration with their mahouts (trainers), to hold brushes and, using non-toxic paint, to paint on paper and canvas and create abstract works that could be promoted and distributed to raise awareness and funds for Asian elephants.

When Elephants Paint presented a range of works by elephants from Thailand, India and Bali, as well as one of Komar and Melamid’s earliest collaborative works with an elephant in the United States. The elephants’ paintings were available for sale in an on-line auction, with proceeds from the sale donated to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to assist elephant conservation projects across the Asia Pacific region. Included in the exhibition was a resource room providing information and background on Komar and Melamid’s career, the AEACP, interviews with supporters of the project and as-of then unseen footage of Asian elephants learning to paint.

Also included in the exhibition was a series of surreal photographs of Moscow’s Red Square taken by seven-year old Russian chimpanzee Mikki, who was taught to use various cameras by Komar and Melamid during the summer of 1998.

Tour Itinerary

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Vic: 1 – 30 September 2001