The exhibition ENERGY/MASS, showing work by Koen Vanmechelen (b. 1965), recently opened at Wasserman Projects in Detroit’s Eastern Market. The show marks a new phase in Vanmechelen’s Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (CCP), a transdisciplinary project exploring the balance between productivity and diversity. The artist’s work includes photography, sculpture, mixed-media installation, video, and living art, with the current exhibition featuring 2D and 3D artwork alongside live chickens from the CCP.
Read more about Koen Vanmechelen and CCP in this article from The Low Countries Yearbook.
Every year Vanmechelen introduces a new species into the CCP, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. For this exhibition the 19th generation Mechelse Cemani chicken is crossed with the American Wyandotte. Vanmechelen has also established an Open University of Diversity in Detroit, a think tank and meeting place around biological and cultural diversity, connecting with the OpUnDi Harare in Zimbabwe and the central hub in Genk, Belgium, to form a global project.
The crossing of a CCP hen with a local, commercial laying hen connects knowledge from the CCP with local experience and heritage, bringing diversity to the local chickens and breaking the cycle of potential genetic impoverishment caused by industrial production. The local chickens in turn provide the genetic characteristics to survive their specific environment and strengthen the cosmopolitan genome.