The various phenotypes show characteristics of the twelve different chicken breeds that were crossed into this generation of the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project / recognisable traits from Belgium, France, Great Britain, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, Turkey, Cuba and Italy.
Chicken breed named after Alexey Grigoryevich Orlov, an 18th-century Russian count, the most influential promoter of this breed / Persian breed, spread across Europe and Asia in the 17th century / cultivated for its meat and eggs, and as an ornamental breed / colours: red porcelain, red, white, cuckoo / threatened with extinction (see the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy list).
Vanmechelen successively purchased Orloffs near Antwerp and near Moscow. Some arm-twisting was required to bring the asking price for one single chicken down from a whopping €27,000.
Birthplace of the first chicks
Meeuwen-Gruitrode, on Koen Vanmechelen's home farm
Against Exclusions, The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, Mechelse Orloff
3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moskou (RU), 2009
The unexpected, the appeal of the chicken
Serendipity at work...
Bringing the chickens into Russia did not go smoothly. The list of obstacles to overcome was long, ranging from vaccinations over import taxes to administrative issues. During the transport of live animals from Belgium to Russia, Vanmechelen’s team had to deal with additional setbacks, including the death of one of the animals in transport. Consequently, the cost for this addition to the CCP was very high.