Chapter Black Stork Baby

Black Stork Baby

On May 8th 2021, World Migratory Bird Day, Koen Vanmechelen kicks off The Unthinkable Experiment-Chapter Black Stork Baby. The premise is the living installation Black Stork Baby, which has its home in Protected Paradise, at LABIOMISTA. The installation, set up at the small lake, consists of a large enclosure for black storks who have found their temporary home there. Black Stork Baby is built in the transition (zone) between city and nature, surrounded by woodlands, between Genk and Hoge Kempen National Park, between the domesticated human and what for us still means ‘wild nature’. In the midst of the corona crisis, these proud, shy birds got there ‘a quarantine of freedom’. A concept that in times of COVID obtained a new interpretation.

The black storks were born in captivity but are part of a rewilding project in cooperation with Hoge Kempen National Park and UHasselt Field Research Centre. LABIOMISTA wants to be the place of departure from where these young black storks can obtain complete freedom, start their annual migration, and search for new wetlands and lush forests.


The Unthinkable Experiment – Chapter Black Stork Baby includes a series of ethical and philosophical pathways around themes evoked by the artwork and by the question to release the young birds. About the relation between human, animal, and nature; About the importance, the necessity, and the risks of migration; about domestication and rewilding; about human’s-, animals- and nature’s rights and responsibilities; about the role of animals in nature conservation; about quarantine, safety, and captivity.

Every six months, we work on a new theme, initiated with an opening debate and 5 recurring questions.  The participants of the debate, with or without an audience, come from various disciplines, ensuring a wide range of perspectives. Following an inspirational visit of LABIOMISTA, they prepare for the debate in the isolation of one of three boxes at LaMouseion. The result of the debate is the foundation for further enrichment, exploration, and development, via interviews, dialogues, individual contributions and the input of visitors.

Theme Migration

The first theme is migration and runs from May 8th until November 7th. For 6 months, we issue an open invitation to everyone who wants to be inspired by Black Stork Baby and contribute to discussion. This can be done from one of LaMouseion’s knowledge boxes or remotely. The results of the different trajectories will be included in our Library of Collected Knowledge. 

Names of the first debaters are known: journalist Dirk Draulans (Knack), social entrepreneur Chido Govera, IUNC-biodiversity ambassador Ignace Schops, rector Bernard Vanheusden (UHasselt), and artist Koen Vanmechelen.

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Black Stork Baby ©Koen Vanmechelen