The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (CCP, 1999) is a global, transdisciplinary and transtemporal examination of the themes of biocultural diversity and identity through the interplay of art, science and beauty. In the CCP, artist Koen Vanmechelen crossbreeds chicken breeds from different countries. His ultimate goal is the creation of a Cosmopolitan Chicken carrying the genes of all the planet’s chicken breeds. Much more than a mere domesticated animal, the chicken is art in itself. It serves as a metaphor for the human animal and its relationship with the biological and cultural diversity of the planet.
While the native breeds that descended from the original chicken (the Red Junglefowl) are evolutionary dead-ends (being shaped to reflect the typical cultural characteristics of its community), Vanmechelen’s crossings are solutions. Many years of crossbreeding have shown that each successive generation is more resilient, it lives longer, is less susceptible to diseases, and it exhibits less aggressive behavior. Genetic diversity is essential, proves the Cosmopolitan Chicken Research Project (CC®P), which studies the various Cosmopolitan Chickens. In the millennium year 2000, Vanmechelen presented his first ‘crossing’, the Mechelse Bresse, a ‘crossing’ born out of the Belgian species Mechelse Koekoek and the French Poulet de Bresse. To date, twenty-one purebreds have been included in the CCP.