Koen Vanmechelen, Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, photo courtesy Galerie West
Since 1998 Belgian conceptual artist Koen Vanmechelen has been working on what he calls ‘The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project,’ cross-breeding chickens and using them to address issues related to multiculturalism, globalization, ethics, genetic manipulation and the meaning of life. The result of his genetic experiments is a ‘cosmopolitan bastard chicken,’ which takes a leading role in installations, photographs, video, drawing, taxidermy and sculpture.
According to Vanmechelen, the chicken has become a living symbol of national identity. For example, the Brest chicken (France) is blue, white and red; the colors of the French flag.
His most recent solo show at Galerie West titled Domestication, continues Vanmechelen’s exploration of the old time chicken or egg question, which is at the crux of his work. According to the exhibition’s press release “the aim of The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project is the ultimate mixing of genetics with, as a result, an unpredictable enrichment. Vanmechelen supports multiculturalism and diversity but is against genetic manipulation and varietal purity. In the endless process of intercultural crossing, he sees the future of society.”
Vanmechelen recently had solo exhibitions at, among other places, the Himalayas Center, Shanghai, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, S.M.A.K., Ghent, Museum Valkhof, Nijmegen, Conner Contemporary Art, Washington, St. Lucas Gallery, Brussels, Deweer Gallery, Otegem, Galerie k4, Munich, and Venice Project, Venice. He has participated in many international group exhibitions and exhibited during the 53rd Biennial in Venice, the Miami Art Fair, Miami, The Armory Show, New York, Art Amsterdam, Art Cologne and many more. In 2010, he was awarded with an honorary degree from the University of Hasselt.
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