LABIOMISTA (literally, “mixture of life”) is a project born out of a passionate idea, fostered by enthusiasm for an adventure, and translated into something real to believe in: a cultural site whose purpose is to stimulate reflection and critical thinking on the relationship between art and science, as well as on the interplay between art and society in its broadest sense.

Medusa Koen Vanmechelen

The project is the brainchild of Koen Vanmechelen

an internationally-famous conceptual artist whose work focuses on bio-cultural diversity and identity. In Genk, Belgium, he has set up a collaboration with the local community to experiment with an unprecedented model of environmental sustainability where art and science constantly swap roles, cross-contaminating and regenerating themselves, sharing one and the same perspective: that research and artistic production are not separate from the central issues of society, from the economy and the identification of sustainable forms of innovation

LABIOMISTA occupies an area of over 24 hectares

immersed in nature and includes a series of spaces and buildings designed by architect Mario Botta, starting from Vanmechelen’s studio, a large room that interacts with its adjacent outdoor spaces. Vanmechelen’s art is thus a system that increases opportunities for wellbeing because it is one of the tools capable of strengthening and enhancing sustainable activities and processes. In this sense, the contemporary artwork is capable of establishing a new relationship between everyday spaces and the quality of life, in the awareness that the world is changing quickly and the transition from a culture of consumption to practices that make us responsible is a task we all share.

Labiomista, photo by Jeron Verrecht

Challenges can only be faced through exchange and experimentation, and in this sense Koen Vanmechelen promotes sustainable practices with every means at his disposal. One of the first “living art” initiatives to have been promoted by Vanmechelen is the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, a programme of crossbreeding where the artist rears chickens from different countries, diversifying their genetic makeup and, thereby, increasing their fertility, immunity and aesthetic variety.

Musement

The project has stimulated similar initiatives around the world, as well as collaborations with scientists from different sectors, to examine the importance of diversity in building resilience and changing perspectives on the environment and the relationships between nature and culture.

“I think LABIOMISTA will promote debates among a wide range of people – from the public to artists to scholars – on how to create more diverse, sustainable, resilient and committed communities, and also on our relationships withother living creatures,”

© Koen Vanmechelen, foto citta di Genk by Tony Van galen

says Koen Vanmechelen. “It is exciting to bring together the various aspects of my work in a single centre and see what new ideas and projects can be born of this, here and also elsewhere.” By bringing together and exploring the interaction between art, science and philosophy in his work, Vanmechelen reflects on our global heritage and examines how we all choose to live and evolve.