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Artist To Mash Rat on Canvas? Rat for Rat’s Sake, Says Humane Society

December 30, 1989

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ The humane society says it will oppose an artist’s plan to snuff his pet rat Sniffy by flattening it with a 55-pound concrete block.

Actually, two canvases would be created in smashing the rat: One under the hapless rodent and one on the block Rick Gibson plans to drop onto his pet next week.

″I’m giving a public demonstration, a free art lesson, to show people how they could do this themselves,″ Rick Gibson said Friday. ″People will be able to crush other creatures in the comfort of their own homes sort of thing to see what sort of patterns they get.″

Ah, but is it art?

Gibson insists the killing will be humane and legal, and Sniffy will be well-cared for right up to the end. ″I have no desire to mistreat him at all. I’m going to be treating him humanely at all times,″ he said.

Ingrid Pollack of the Vancouver Humane Society said the killing would be ridiculous and sick. She said the society will try to halt Gibson’s plans.

Gibson has created a guillotine-like apparatus to execute his plan. There is a cage for the rat on the bottom. The weight slides down a pole. He tested it on a squash.

″I’ve had this idea mulling around in my mind for some time,″ Gibson said.

He plans to roll the apparatus in front of the Vancouver Library on Jan. 6 for a Saturday afternoon performance for a few of his friends.

Killing a rat for art is no worse than trapping or poisoning it as a pest, Gibson said.

He bought Sniffy from a pet shop and says it otherwise probably would have ended up as a meal for a snake or a lizard.

″For the life of me I can’t tell the difference between what I’m doing and what they do when they have rats in the house,″ Gibson said. ″So I don’t know what the fuss is about, if there is any.″

Gibson, 38, recently returned to Canada after six years in England. He plans to return in February to appeal a conviction for outraging public decency by making earrings out of freeze-dried human fetal tissue.

In Vancouver last July, Gibson said, police stopped him from consuming a slice of human testicle he acquired from a medical supply store. He said he was able to complete the art performance in September.

″I just wanted to be the first cannibal in Vancouver to go public,″ he said.

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