Koen Vanmechelen moves his Open University of Diversity from Hasselt to Genk

Vanmechelen builds global project in Genk

CC-Park in Zwartberg Zoo

GENK- In 2017 Koen Vanmechelen will open his intellectual animal park, the Cosmopolitan Culture Park, in the former zoo of Zwartberg. The ambitious project of OpUnDi Genk puts the city and the province of Limburg on the world map.

The Open University of Diversity is moving from Hasselt to Genk. The new headquarters for staff, atelier, animals and Koen Vanmechelen’s four international foundations (Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, CosmoGolem, Walking Egg and Combat-Gone West) is located on the former terrains of Zwartberg Zoo in Genk. In close cooperation with the city and with the province of Limburg, the artist is opening the Cosmopolitan Culture Park (CC-Park). “Artistically as well as architecturally and conceptually, this is completely unique” according to Koen Vanmechelen. “When the idea is bigger than the individual, the community decides where it lives.” OpUnDi University Hasselt and OpUnDi Detroit are in the works.

The location in multicultural Genk is ideal to translate the central theme of Vanmechelen’s versatile work, namely biocultural diversity, to a broader audience. “At the same time it will attract many thinkers on diversity – from scientists to artists and philosophers” says Vanmechelen. OpUnDi Genk and CC-Park will develop an artistic, educative and tourist programme. In this endeavour Vanmechelen has the support of prominent figures such as Jill Silverman van Coenegrachts (art consultant), Ignace Schops (expert biodiversity), Olivier Hanotte (molecular geneticist), Mario Botta (expert durable architecture), Piet Stinissen and Jean-Jacques Cassiman.

For the director’s mansion and the CC-Park, a semi-public park of more than five hectare, a public-private cooperation will be established. Koen Vanmechelen and the city of Genk will found the non-profit OpUnDi Genk for this purpose. “This is a global project that fits seamlessly with the DNA of our city,” says mayor Wim Dries. “It gives us an international platform in the discourse on diversity and multicultural society.” The city of Genk will allot a grant of 75.000 euro a year to the non-profit for the advancement of the discourse surrounding cosmopolitanism and its translation into the city. Wim Dries: “The city will also take on the cost of the ongoing restoration of the interior and exterior of the director’s mansion, including the remodelling of the park.”

Koen Vanmechelen himself will build an entirely new atelier at the site. Vanmechelen: “It is a hybrid atelier, the result of very diverging ideas of a few internationally renowned architects. Call it an accident de parcours.” The CC-Park will not be your typical zoo, but an intellectual animal park, the Cosmopolitan Culture Park. Koen Vanmechelen himself invests heavily in this animal park: “Aside from the animals that are part of my project, we will also house species that provoke us intellectually and urge us to act: endangered species and species who are eligible for dedomestication. ”

Originally posted on Koen Vanmechelen’s website.


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