Koen Vanmechelen (b. 1965, Sint-Truiden, Belgium) lives and works in Meeuwen-Gruitrode, Belgium and is an internationally renowned, conceptual artist. His work deals with biocultural diversity and identity. He is mostly known for his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (C.C.P.). Central to this project are the chicken and the interbreeding of national chicken species into ʻcosmopolitan chickensʼ. 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. These thoughts are expanded on at the Open University of Diversity, Vanmechelen’s breeding place covering four international foundations; Walking Egg, CosmoGolem, Cosmopolitan Chicken Research Project and COMBAT.
Vanmechelen has presented his work on almost every continent, from the U.S. to China and Iceland to Senegal. In Belgium his work has been exhibited in many museums and venues: the Verbeke Foundation, Watou, Museum M and Z33. He has also participated in solo and group exhibitions including the National Gallery (London), Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Museum Kunst Palast (Düsseldorf), Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ (Amsterdam), Macro (Rome), MAD Museum (NY), Belvedere (Vienna), ZKM (Karlsruhe) and Pushkin Museum (Moscow). His work has been shown at the Biennials of Venice, Moscow, Havana, Dakar and Poznan, at the Triennial of Guangzhou, at the World Expo Shanghai 2010, at Manifesta 9, and at dOCUMENTA (13).
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