High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

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Crossing Chickens with Art. Koen Vanmechelen's Cosmopolitan Chicken Project
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Crossing Chickens with Art. Koen Vanmechelen's Cosmopolitan Chicken Project

(Barbara Simons) The Low Countries - 2005, № 13, pp. 61-69

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Three words are sufficient to introduce the artist Koen Vanmechelen: the chicken, the cage and the egg. You might call them the obsessive foundations of his life and work. Since his childhood Vanmechelen has been obsessed by everything that has wings and lays eggs: poultry scratched around at the back of the home where he grew up – so we have the chicken; to house them the young Koen sawed planks of wood and built henhouses – the cage; in his room he had an incubator to raise his own birds – the egg. His early sculptures expressed an artistic quest for the right cage for the right chicken. But there came a moment when the cook-cum-sculptor became a farmer and his art transcended the material from which it was made. Far removed from all his brooding on materials, Vanmechelen realised that the cage he was looking for was nothing other than the living chicken running around in his back garden. Like the wooden sculptures, the chicken carries its own cage inside it. The chicken is the cage. The chicken is the work of art that has to be continued. Ergo: the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project.

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