This exhibition comes at a time when art, science and community engagement is getting prominence in the Zimbabwean Art scene. The arrival of this exhibition by Koen brings a rather different dimension on what art can do. As an international platform, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe is hosting this exhibition to continue its legacy that was started when it opened in 1957. The Planetary Community Chicken exhibition is here for the audience to enjoy and also question the Artist’s intentions. In my own view, this exhibition is for both adults and children to enjoy. For our urban children, this exhibition has brought the village to the Gallery for them to view and experience rural life. The two little huts are copies of a Senegalese chicken hut while the other two are Zimbabwean. The Planetary Chicken Community Chicken exhibition also extends into the garden with the Cosmogolem. The National Gallery of Zimbabwe will continue bringing international Artists to Zimbabwe and it is our hope that this can inspire our local artists and the visiting artists. Koen was inspired by the Hope Foundation by our own Entrepreneur Chido Govera. In conclusion, let me say: Art brings people together and it is my hope that the Planetary Community Chicken exhibition by this Belgian Artist will get us to think about what contemporary art can do. The installation in the National Gallery of Zimbabwe heralds the advent of Vanmechelen’s latest project; the Planetary Community Chicken (PCC), on the African continent. After so many years of crossbreeding in the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (CCP), the artist found that each of the successive generations of crossbreeds is more resilient, lives longer, is less susceptible to disease and exhibits less aggressive behaviour. The Planetary Community Chicken is launched as a response to the positive outcomes of the CCP and as a means of activating his art in the community. By crossing his CCP roosters with local commercial hens, Vanmechelen re-connects the global learning of the CCP with local heritage and experience. The crossing brings diversity to the local flock and breaks through the cycle of potential genetic erosion that is a risk of local inbreeding and of industrial highly efficient mono cultural production. Concurrent, the local chicken provides the necessary characteristics suited for the local environment and superior resistance to local threats.
At the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, the result of this crossing, the CC2016, is moving across the sand bedding of the Courtauld gallery. The chicken oops are made of clayand- stick by people from nearby communities in the ancient tradition of Dhaka hut making. The chickens are fed mushrooms grown by food expert and social entrepreneur Chido Govera and the local communities. Govera’s Harare-based foundation; The Future of Hope, is enabling disadvantaged orphans, women, and communities to lift themselves out of poverty through agriculture. The chicken’s droppings are used as the breeding soil for the mushrooms. The eggs are collected and sold by the locals. Combined, chickens, mushrooms and eggs make a living and life-giving ecosystem that can be managed by the local communities