Koen Vanmechelen, Honorary Doctor, is a Belgian multi- and transdisciplinary artist who began his career in the early nineties. He is one of the most prolific and prominent contemporary artists in Belgium. Central to his extensive and innovative oeuvre is the Gallus gallus domesticus or chicken and its ancestral species, the Red Junglefowl or Gallus gallus.
Vanmechelen gained worldwide notoriety with his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (CCP), a chicken-breeding art project. His 17th generation of hybrid chickens, the Mechelse Styrian, was born in April 2013 in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana. Together with his two other cosmopolitan projects/foundations, The CosmoGolem and The Walking Egg, The Cosmopolitan Chicken Research Project (CC®P) forms the vast artistic lay-out of the artist, who manages them from his Open University of Diversity, which is situated in the old Gelatin Factory near Hasselt Harbour.
Vanmechelen’s artistic triad is an investigation of and an ode to the beautiful diversity and hybridity of life: “Every organism needs another organism to survive”. Biocultural diversity is the core theme of his oeuvre. Vanmechelen often collaborates with scientists to know and illuminate the world. He uses innovative technologies such as 3D-scanning, morphometrics, 3D-printing and interactive 3D visualisation. In 2010, the University of Hasselt awarded him with an honorary doctorate.
A new species of flat worm discovered in Venice (It) during the artist solo exhibition Nato a Venezia at the biennial of Venice was in 2013 named Trigonostomum Vanmecheleni in honour of the artist.