'Modified Spaces' - Fourth Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art
September 22-November 22
The Guangdong museum of Art (Guangzhou, China) selected belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen as central artist in their 'Inauguration Exhibition of the Fourth Guangzhou Triennial' titled 'Back to Basics - The Museum Per Se'. For this expo, the artist created an site-specific installation called 'Modified Spaces'. An installation about the balance between nature and humans and about transformation.
Curator: Peter Noever
Guangdong Museum of Art (CN)
A hall is bathing in the deep, red and warm light of numerous heat lamps mounted on the ceiling. This is not the gate of hell, but a porch to life. It is a Fallopian tube, a start for transformation. Through this installation, the visitors enter the world of 37.6 degrees Celsius/99.7 degrees Fahrenheit. This is exactly the temperature needed for an egg in a three-dimensional incubator to hatch. The prerequisite to grow from pre-hatching embryo to newborn chick. While the visitor is pushed forward through the all dominating redness, waiting to be metamorphosised, a wall video is showing an egg that is about to break and release a new life form.
At the end of the hall the visitor is drawn into a large room. An instructional video is explaining the crossbreeding Cosmopolitan Chicken Project of artist Koen Vanmechelen and prepares the visitor for the experience to come. On one side a large bird cage is looming, filled with tropical plants and the almost mythical Red Junglefowl, the ancestor of the domestic chicken. To access this cage, to enjoy a multisensorial experience and walk the narrow line dividing the wild and the domestic, visitors must be disinfected: they are obliged to wear plastic shoes and a mouth mask. In the pre-human world of the Red Junglefowl, no human contamination or germs are allowed.
Once in the cage the visitor/intruder will undergo a subtle but pervasive process of transformation. He will switch his point of view, from looking through the prism of reality to looking and sensing through a prism of changed perception. At the same time, by simply walking through the cage, the visitor restarts the process of domestication of the chicken that started so many thousands of years ago. A close encounter of the third kind. This cuts both ways, because also the human animal was transformed by millennia of close contact with this beautiful bird. Both species needed this transformation in order to survive.
In the rest of the room ventilators are ‘working’ above 15 tables, which are presented as beds. Each and every one of them is nurturing a certain amount of chicken eggs and symbolises one of the 15 generations of chickens belonging to the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project. An index on the wall clarifies the crossbreeding process and the species responsible for each generation. This is the artist’s biocultural potential for transformation. These are the tools for the future. ‘Nature,’ writes Nietzsche does not by any means strive to imitate man.’ Koen Vanmechelen disagrees: man, being a part of nature, imitates and is imitated. He transforms to be transformed. To presume otherwise is foolish.