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Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, Terra Libera: who does the land belong to?, Rijksmuseum Twenthe (NL)

From September 8th until January 28th Rijksmuseum Twenthe organizes a large manifestation concerning the question ‘who does the land belong to?’. With this theme, the museum connects to one of the most pressing social issues of today: the handling and future of the rural area. Besides an extensive public program, the manifestation consists of three different exhibitions bringing together ancient and contemporary works of art to portray how (Western) man has appropriated and cultivated the land over the past centuries. Vanmechelen is invited to present his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, as a strong message against our focus on monoculture.

The future of the rural space

The ways in which we make use of scarce land are creating tensions. Many of the biggest issues of our time affect the areas outside big cities: the climate crisis, nitrogen emissions, drought, biodiversity loss, sustainable food production, the transition to green energy, and resource extraction. All of these have consequences and pose dilemmas primarily in the rural environment.

With the manifestation Terra Libera (‘free land’) Rijksmuseum Twente wants to explore questions as; What does the future of the countryside look like, and what should our priorities be? Should we build, farm, or give land back to nature? Or are these objectives more easily reconcilable than we might think, and can we approach then in a creative, integrated manner?

In the main exhibition this means zooming out. The first part Terra Libera shows artworks from the late Middle Ages until now, showing how we have looked at the land through the ages, how we have made this land our own and how we cultivated it. In the second part of the exhibition, contemporary artists illustrate how we can develop a different, more sustainable relationship with the land. One of these artist is Koen Vanmechelen.

The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project - Crossbreeding and diversity

Biological and cultural diversity is one of the pillars of Koen Vanmechelens’ Cosmopolitan Chicken Project. With an installation of taxidermic chickens, the artist brings his world-renowned crossbreeding project to Enschede.; a metaphorical, global narrative about the importance of diversity, with offshoots into philosophy, science, medicine and sociology.

At its heart, the project is not about chickens or eggs, but rather about crossbreeding, and the diversity that results from it. The cosmopolitan chicken holds up a mirror to us. Crossbreeding is not just a practical necessity but also a philosophical one – and perhaps even a moral duty. Today’s chicken breeds are failing. New blood is needed to prevent inbreeding and degeneration. "Every organism needs another organism to survive,” states the artist.

Every organism needs another organism to survive

— Koen Vanmechelen

The exhibition also features work by: Art Orienté Objet, Daniel van Breen, Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Hendrik Coetzee, Albert Cuyp, Ger Dekkers, Anastasia Eggers and Ottonie von Roeder, Andreas Gursky, Wapke Feenstra, Hanneke Francken, Carlijn Kingma, Anton Koster, Alexander de Lavaux, Adriaan de Lelie, Willem Maris, Charles Lim Yi Yong, Sandipan Nath, Gerard Ortín Castellví, Abel Rodríguez Gerco de Ruijter, Rebecca Schedler, Jonas Staal, Jacob van Strij, Basse Stittgen, Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch, Liam Young, and Christiaan Zwanikken.

Exhibition info

Rijksmuseum Twenthe Terra Libera

Lasondersingel 129 - 131, 7514 BP Enschede, Netherlands 8.09.2023  28.01.2024 Tue-Sun, 10-17h

Opening on 8.09 16h00

Free opening festival on 8/9.09

Free festival with workshops, short lectures, guided tours, tastings and more.



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