Koen Vanmechelen (BE) Planetary Community Chicken

In situ, multimedia installation, 2020

While Schrödinger’s cat needs an observer to (not) exist, Koen Vanmechelen’s art requires a community to either become or to become not. It requires a nest to mature. The Planetary Community Chicken (PCC) installation of the Belgian artist at Touch Me Festival connects the local Croatian nest to the global noosphere. As stated in neon, they both need each other.

In this installation, Vanmechelen interbreeds a local commercial chicken – Sasso – with the 25th generation of his international Cosmopolitan Chicken Program (CCP). The birds are breeding in a coop, while the previous CCP generations* figure majestically in the installation as a Greek choir witnessing the birth of something fascinating and intimidating. The delivery of life.

The 25th Generation is called the Mechelse Hrvatica. It is in itself a cross of the Croatian Kokoš hrvatica with the Mechelse Kollonca, the 24th CCP crossing. It is Vanmechelen’s latest milestone in his 20-year-long artistic-scientific quest with crossing genes and memes expressed in the creation of new hundreds of animal species and hybrid installations. The tools of a shamanic migrant’s quest for identity, and our place and time in the multiverse.

The installation is an outpost of Vanmechelen’s LABIOMISTA studio in Genk, Belgium. LABIOMISTA is a node in a colossal connectome. It lives by giving life and energy to others, and by receiving energy and vitality from others. It is incessantly communicating, vibrating, and pulsating, using all channels to bring a message of connectivity and healing, sharing, and bonding.

No one, it says, is a single island in a vast sea of nothingness, we are all connected. This is the message of the DNA book in the installation. We are a product of crossing, meant to cross ourselves. That dangerous process is symbolized by the lettering on the floor. It is up to the observer to walk on that bright and shiny, yellow road or circumvent it.

The installation finds a finale in a Cosmocafe. Vanmechelen organizes these ‘'free spaces’' around the globe as part of the development of the Human Rights Pavilion. In Croatia, he brings together, amongst others, curator Jurij Krpan (Kapelica Gallery, Slovenia), permaculturist Barbara Scheltus-van den Berg (Bogata Šuma, Croatia) to debate the conditions for sustainable coexistence of individuals and human cultures with each other, and with other species on the planet.

* The taxidermy animals all died a natural death

Koen Vanmechelen (BE)

Koen Vanmechelen (1965) is an internationally renowned artist, working across a multitude of disciplines and one of the most versatile thinkers of these times. He is situated at the confluence of art, science, philosophy and community.

As an eternal migrant, he travels the world looking for answers to fundamental questions that touch on issues which are both timeless and acutely relevant today: identity, diversity, globalisation and human rights. He weaves those answers – always works in progress – into enigmatic artworks and projects. His quests and interdisciplinary projects invite other migrants to work together and create an awareness and a movement of communities around the world. Together, they reflect on the global legacy of the human animal and explore the different ways we choose to live and evolve together.

In 2010, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hasselt and in 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Golden Nica Hybrid Art Award (Linz) and Global Artist's Award (Venice). So far, his work has been shown in more than 80 solo shows and 220 group exhibitions worldwide. As a speaker in high demand, he was invited to address the World Economic Forum (2008) and various TED conferences.