Koen Vanmechelen

Conceptual artist Koen Vanmechelen explores the importance of biocultural diversity, identity and community in his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project.

The Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen is an internationally acclaimed conceptual artist. His work explores the importance of bio-cultural diversity, identity and community. He is best known for his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (CCP) in which he cross-breeds domesticated chickens from different countries as an allegorical and aesthetic statement about the way in which diversity can shape the global cultural and genetic mix. The artist’s scientific collaborations around the project have earned him numerous awards including the Golden Nica Hybrid Art award in 2013. Vanmechelen has presented his work on almost every continent and is a regular contributor to the Venice Biennale. From spring 2018, his headquarters will be at La Biomista, meaning literally, mix of life, a former public zoo in the city of Genk that Vanmechelen is transforming into a living laboratory where culture, nature and humanity find a new more sustainable balance.

At Design Indaba Conference 2017, Koen is joined on stage by Chido Govera. Although operating in different fields, Koen and Chido have a common interest. They both use living media to effect change on society. Chido is a farmer, social entrepreneur, food expert and educator who teaches mushroom cultivation to thousands of people from across the world, from her native Zimbabwe to Colombia. In 2013, she established the Future of Hope Foundation. The foundation works with vulnerable orphans, women and girls in townships and rural Zimbabwe and South Africa. It creates platforms for the so-called “un-reached” to act to change their circumstances, by learning from their own personal experiences and from the people around them.