Koen Vanmechelen has been invited to the 5th edition of the Jerusalem Biennale entitled Four Cubits (ארבע אמות). In Jewish tradition, Four Cubits is used to point out a person’s private space. A cubit, or Ama in Hebrew, is an ancient measurement of length of about 0.5 meters. Therefore, four cubits are about 2 meters- the 2 meter circle surrounding a person is his/her personal space.
Under the title Crossquery, Vanmechelen presents a site-specific installation. This eerie, almost spiritual installation deals with life in stages. Transformation is the essence. It is presented as a line, starting from alpha, with an incubator with endless possibilities.
Central in this installation is the Baladi, the indigenous chicken breed of Israel. Already 2.300 years ago, the region had poultry farms, according to the latest archeological research. In a big cage, a couple of Baladi hens stroll about. They will become part of Koen Vanmechelen’s long-term crossbreeding art project; the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (CCP) by crossbreeding with the Mechelse Hrvatica – the 25th generation of the CCP – presented in a portrait on the wall.
This new species will bear the characteristics of the twenty-six different breeds of chicken crossed into the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project. It takes recognizable traits from Belgium, France, Great Britain, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, Turkey, Cuba, Italy, Russia, China, Egypt, Senegal, Slovenia, Austria, Indonesia, Detroit, Denmark, Finland, Vatican City, Chile, and Croatia. Now the Israeli species, the Baladi, is integrated into the project.
The simmering question, as presented visually on the wall, is what will be the outcome? What will emerge from the egg? An incubator with transparent eggs welcomes the next generation in all transparency. Everything is possible.
The answer to these questions might be above our heads. The dynamics lead upwards. Near the ceiling, a dwarf-like figure is entangled with a bird. It looks like an angel. It is as if the beauty and the beast are engaged in a dance for the soul of the next crossbreeding result. Whoever wins this cosmic dance will descend on the rest of the installation and answer the questions of this global crossbreeding project called life. And its offspring.
FOUR CUBITS - The 2021 Jerusalem Biennale
November 11th - December 30 , 2021
Ram (Rami) Ozeri, Founding Director Biennial of Jerusalem
Stephanie Manasseh, Curator