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“Perfect Strangers verduidelijkt wie we zijn aan onszelf,

de perfecte vreemdeling.”

Artist Koen Vanmechelen

The project

Human-animal meets non-human animal in a controlled context. There is no better way to appreciate the depth and aesthetic beauty of a living artwork. For his installation Perfect Strangers, at Ecovention Europe, Het Domein, Sittard (NL), Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen asked the population of Sittard to adopt a Cosmopolitan Chicken, to reflect on the adoption and to reflect on origins and migration through the results of a DNA swap.
Ten volunteering families adopted a Chicken from Vanmechelen's ongoing Cosmopolitan Chicken Project and reflected on the process of tending the animal, gathering the eggs, cleaning the coop. Their reflections about the living artwork they cared for were recorded in a diary and in an interview.
The adoptive families were be subjected to a DNA swap. The data in their DNA confronted them with their past. To which genetic lineage they belong? How did their ancestors migrate over the world and what was the interaction of their forebears with the chicken, human’s most important companion animal? For the past 7.000 years, the interaction between the two species has
thoroughly changed the genetic (chicken) and memetic (man) lay-out. Where do they come from? What can the chicken tell us?
More on the exhibition
The story
DNA Research
Adoption of a Cosmopolitan Chicken
Becoming part of a new community
Extracts of a diary
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