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Killing a Rat on Stage

January 27, 1990

I've received a lot of flak about remarks I made in Breslauer's article on Vancouver artist Gibson's attempted public snuffing of Sniffy the Rat. Let me set the record straight.

I do not condone animal abuse on (or off) stage. However, as an artist interested in human behavior, I think it important to look at how this issue raises larger questions about our own hypocrisy.

Aren't we all, in some way, compliant with the endless conveyor belt of veal, fur coats, chicken soup, leather boots, etc., that invisibly links our lives to the deaths of millions of animals?

Theoretically, could an animal killed on stage expose this violence and provoke greater animal rights awareness and activism? Certainly, Sniffy the Rat seems to have signaled a concern. But which rat are we talking about here: a cuddly "personified" rat that we've named and projected our ego onto (a la Rachel Rosenthal) or the pests in our basements?

Breslauer's attempts to simplify by pitting Rosenthal's and my opinions against each other don't do the subject, or my views, justice.

No , I would not kill a rat on stage, but yes , I might set a trap for one at home.

JOHN FLECK, Los Angeles

Fleck is a performance artist.

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