In 2017, Koen Vanmechelen moved his studio and foundation headquarters to LABIOMISTA, situated in a former public zoo in the Belgian city of Genk.
LABIOMISTA, literally 'mix of life', is in itself an all-encompassing art project, set up as a model for the philosophical ideas on which Vanmechelen’s work is based. LABIOMISTA hosts Vanmechelen’s first Open University of Diversity and related foundations. The site is also where the artist's animals live and breed. It is both a laboratory and a library of biocultural diversity.
LABIOMISTA is situated at the intersection between city and countryside, industry and community.
According to Vanmechelen:
"This is a place that has both the physical and mental space needed for biological and cultural diversity to flourish. Its position between the domesticated and the wild helps bring new fertility to the neighbourhood, which in turn will spread to other parts of the city. LABIOMISTA will show how various cultures can come into contact, and how humans, flora and fauna can co-exist in enriching ways that have perhaps been forgotten. My work at LABIOMISTA navigates between and across disciplines, positioning diversity as the foundation for sustainable living and offering up an alternative to traditionally monolithic, mono-cultural approaches to development."
With support from local government as well as private stakeholders, and in collaboration with Flanders and Limburg Tourism, LABIOMISTA is being developed as a public-private partnership between Vanmechelen and the city of Genk. The 24 hectare site opened to the public on July 6th, 2019. It consists of three parts: a villa, park and studio designed by influential Swiss architect Mario Botta, each one representing a different identity: humans, nature, and the interplay and tension between them. As visitors enter this world, a pair of stellar sea-eagles look down upon them from their cage above the studio, while the red jungle fowls, the source of all domesticated chicken life, continue to forage just meters away. A new exploration between man and nature begins. It is a search for a new, more sustainable balance.
visit www.labiomista.be for more information