Koen Vanmechelen’s artistic work takes its starting point in a study of bio-cultural diversity and identity. Shortly prior to the beginning of a new millennium (2000), Vanmechelen launched his ground-breaking Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, interbreeding different national breeds to form Cosmopolitan Chickens, whose great diversity of traits suggest a better ability to respond to a large spectrum of pathogens than any other chicken breed. With these chickens Vanmechelen wishes to comment on his observations of what he calls “la condition humaine”, the human condition, using art as an active, directly involved part of society.
In 2017 his breeding scheme reached its twenty-first generation; the Mechelse Danish, creating a crossbred that incorporates regional breeds from Belgium, France, England, USA, Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, Turkey, Cuba, Italy, Russia, China, Egypt, Senegal, Slovenia, Austria, Indonesia, Detroit and Denmark. Taking the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project as his starting point, Vanmechelen creates works of art using a wide range of media such as painting, video, sculpture and installation art, questioning our established understanding of man-made identity and sustainable living.
Vanmechelen’s artistic endeavours constitute an ongoing research project. During the last decade, he has engaged in close co-operation with a wide range of research institutions, and in 2010 he received an honorary degree from Hasselt University. In 2013 he received the Golden Nica Hybrid Art Award. Vanmechelen and his team are currently working on his new studio, “La Biomista”, a building designed for the artist by Swiss architect Mario Botta. The new studio includes a 24ha park for the artists’ animals and a renovated villa in the former zoological gardens in Zwartberg, Genk (BE).
Kreditering: Koen Vanmechelen, 2016