The Cosmopolitan Chicken

All the chickens in this project are taken really good care off. In contradiction to most of the chicken or eggs we buy in our supermarkets

There is a little bakery near my house and behind the counter stands an iron basket filled with eggs. Every time I’m in this bakery I imagine how the shop owner, a big guy with big hands, is putting the eggs in the basket. It seems such an easy task but it’s not. He really has to be focused on his actions because these fragile eggs could so easily break if you place them wrong. So what is this guy thinking about when performing this daily routine. I could ask but then I’m afraid he would tell me about unpaid bills or his boring wife and the magic would be gone. So I rather fill in his thoughts myself: Which came first, the chicken or the egg.

In 2000 Koen Vanmechelen launched his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project and started crossing breeds of different chicken from different countries with the aim of eventually returning to “the original chicken” This intervention not only occurred in chicken coops and cages but also in his artistic creations when he “crosses” chicken specimens with other animals, like eagles or artificial materials like glass. This crossbred touches a lot of contemporary social issues such as genetic manipulation, cloning and globalisation, but also tackles fundamental questions about humanity. What is life? What is our identity as a species and as an individual?

Agnes Husslein explained it beautifully: “The egg is the perfect metaphor. It represents fertility, the beginning, but it also signifies a confined but formally ideal space, a wonderful cage that will break open, and out of which something new will be created and nobody knows exactly what. In the ongoing cycle of fertilizing and being fertilized, liberating and being domesticated, the egg at the beginning is the ultimate cage”