Scenario by Koen Vanmechelen
posted by: Filip Luyckx
"Genetic Freedom" by Koen Vanmechelen is the first scenario curated by Filip Luyckx within the framework of the Scenarios about Europe project.
The idea of a European identity is often based on preconceived ethnic criteria.
However, the continent has never been a vacuum-sealed ethnical unity and has
already evolved far away from such an idea. These ethnic prejudices mirror
only nostalgia towards what has been a temporary constellation in recent history.
The identity of our (and any) continent could be defined by ongoing genetic exchanges rather than by an anxious focusing on ethnic standards, which have
been in a process of permanent evolution throughout history.
Long processes of domestication (animals, plants) have been essential to the processes of civilisation since the Neolithic period. Up until today, the chicken has been one of the most close and valuable companions of mankind, reflecting forms of human migration in their own pedigree. In this respect, the chicken might be considered as emblematic for our further evolution.
The first scenario features the Belgian conceptual artist Koen Vanmechelen
and his ongoing worldwide, artistic breeding project, the Cosmopolitan Chicken
Project. His work revolves around two major themes: identity and biocultural
diversity. His artistic tools are the chicken and its egg. For the new installation at
the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig, the artist presented an original Red
Jungle Fowl in a large cage adjacent to the gallery. The Red Jungle Fowl is the
original or "proto-chicken" from which all domestic chickens have descened – more
than 8000 years ago it left the Asian jungles and over time has become domesticated. The domestic cousins of the Red Jungle Fowl travelled the world and were substantially transformed in the process. Meanwhile, the “original animal” became an endangered species.
The rest of the installation inside the gallery space presented the photographic documentation of the results of fourteen “crossings” or the interbreeding of different national chicken species. These images direct the gaze of the visitor to a video, which shows an egg hatching. Vanmechelen has commented, “Manipulation never is without risk. The egg hides a mysterious entity, whose essence is still hidden to us. Possibly positive, but maybe destructive, genes never listen. Its freedom can mean rapture or capture”.
Genetic Freedom, 2011
posted by Filip Luyckx