Rick Gibson holds Sniffy the day before the *event*.

Rick Gibson holds Sniffy the day before the *event*.
Photo Credit: CBC news

Canada history: Jan 6 1990, When “art” went too far


“You’re a monster!” (Vancouver protester)

Montreal-born artist Rick Gibson is nothing if not controversial.

In the early 1980’s he was using legally embalmed animals in freeze-dried sculptures.

In an exhibition in London UK, in 1987 Gibson freeze dried 10-week old human fetuses and attached them as earings to a female mannequin head in a piece called “Human Earrings”.

The London police seized the piece and charged both him and the gallery owner. Eventually Gibson and the gallery owner were fined several hundred pounds for “outrage to public decency”. Gibson was also expelled from the college where he was studying post-graduate art.

Canadian Rick Gibson prior to one of his *performance* pieces in London England
Canadian Rick Gibson prior to one of his *performance* pieces in London England where he ate a piece of human flesh. © rickgibson.net

While still in England, he was later again arrested and convicted of “behaviour likely to breach the peace”, for other “performance art” efforts.

He also publicly ate a piece of human flesh in England although not charged for that as there was no specific law against what he did.

Moving back to Canada he repeated that act in Vancouver British Columbia and was charged by police there, although the charge of publicly displaying a disgusting object was dropped.

However on this date in January 6 1990, his “art” went a bit too far for quite a few Vancouverites.

In December he had announced he would publicly squish a pet store rat he named “Sniffy” between two canvasses to create a diptych.

Rick Gibson. His *art* statement was a bit too much for angry Vancouver residents on January 6, 1990
Rick Gibson. His *art* statement was a bit too much for angry Vancouver residents on January 6, 1990 © rickgibson.net

On January 6, 1990, the day of the ‘performance piece” outside the Vancouver public library, about 300 angry people showed up at the site.

An angry crowd met Gibson outside the Vancouver library where he announced that Sniffy had been returned to the pet store, To shouts of *You’re twisted man*, “You’re a monster”, and *You’re weird*, he was roughed up and chased down the street. © CBC

Before the event though, a group swiped the killing apparatus from the back of his rented truck.  Gibson then went to the library to announce the killing had been called off and said the rat had been returned to the pet store, but  public anger was not calmed when he unwisely said the rat would be used as live food for a reptile.

The crowd began angrily harassing him, apparently one or more in the people giving him a smack on the head, punching and shoving him. Many in the crowd chased him down the street yelling threats as he ran away.

The angry crowd chases the visibly shaken Gibson who ran into a nearby hotel and hid while police were called to disperse the crowd
The angry crowd chases the visibly shaken Gibson who ran into a nearby hotel and hid while police were called to disperse the crowd © CBC

As for Sniffy, animal rights people bought Sniffy for $3.99 plus tax, and gave it to a safe home.

additional information – sources

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Arts and Entertainment, Environment, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.