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Koen Vanmechelen

Artificial cross-breeding

The Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen (1965) is an internationally renowned, conceptual artist. His groundbreaking work deals with biocultural diversity and

identity. Over the last decade Vanmechelen has collaborated with many scientists from different disciplines. This earned him an honorary doctorate at the University of Hasselt in 2010 and the Golden Nica Hybrid Art in 2013.

He is mostly known for his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (C.C.P.). Central to this project are the chicken (Gallus gallus) and the interbreeding of national chicken species into ʻcosmopolitan chickensʼ. In 2014, the artist’s ongoing creation of a world-hybrid chicken reaches its eighteenth generation with the Mechelse Sulmtaler. With the C.C.P., Vanmechelen positions art categorically where it belongs: in the middle of society, engaging with people, always committed. His oeuvre is as diverse and hybrid as the cosmopolitan chicken itself: a unique mix of paintings, drawings, photography, innovative 3D-techniques, video, installations and wooden sculptures. The unifying theme remains the chicken and the egg. But nothing is what it seems. The core of the project is neither the chicken nor the egg, but crossbreeding and the diversity that comes from it. In this way, the artist uses the animal and his offspring as important symbols that allow him to connect scientific, political, philosophical and ethical issues. These thoughts are expanded on the Open University of Diversity, Vanmechelen’s breeding place and headquarters covering four international foundations; the Walking Egg, CosmoGolem, Cosmopolitan Chicken Research Project and COMBAT. The themes they explore are ‘glocal’, respectively fertility, children’s rights, immunity/diversity and international migration.

Artificial cross-breeding
The Cosmopolitan Chicken, Mechelse Giant - in exile
Energy, Communication, Live
The Cosmopolitan Chicken (Mechelse Koekoek x Poulet De Bresse)
The Cosmopolitan Chicken, Mechelse Redcap
The Cosmopolitan Chicken, Mechelse Redcap

Flanders Arts Institute

Expertise centre for performing arts, music and visual arts.