Whilst I was stuffing a rat to look very alike to the pink rat to go on my spot pieces, I stopped and held the rat to the wall. I was holding the rat by its scruff, as it’s mother would carry it and it’s half stuffed body fell in line. I imagined the harshness of a nail holding it there against its will and thought artists should follow their instincts, so why not!
To me at the moment, this piece speaks a lot about cruelty. As an outsider taking a first glance at this piece you would be shocked and horrified, unknowing that this is a preserved rat. But does that change anything?
Since I made my first cut in taxidermy I have felt a lot of respect for the animal. Rats are often a symbol of disease, hatred and disgust, but I have always felt the need to do a good job in order to not disrespect the animals body. I feel like this piece does quite the opposite. I have spent hours removing, washing, preserving and filling its skin to make it immortal, only to viciously nail it to my wall in a mockery of its inability to refuse.
Okay so I feel pretty bad right now but I feel that I have created a symbol. Despite the disrespect I have show this rat, I have also given it a power to influence.
In some sense I believe this piece could be looked at as religious. The dyed fur of the rat ups it’s status to something better than an ordinary rat, it is humanised, special, beautiful and possibly intelligent and you as a viewer feel more inclined to feel sorry for it because of this. That great big nail in it comes with a hole lot of meaning, ‘crucifying’ the rat to the wall.
I feel like this piece speaks a lot about human nature and our strong belief in our intelligence, over our unquestioned ruling and our confidence in ourselves as the top of the food chain. We are bully’s not only to the rest of the natural world but to each other and we are selfish. The origins of this rat body are a prime example of this. Rats are bred in captivity in order to feed pet snakes, and in the same way as I held the rat to the wall by its scruff as it’s mother would, the rats are cared for and nurtured then mindlessly and without love, murdered for the sake of our pets. The control of an organism for personal gain is selfish and brings my point full circle.
I have disrespected this animals body for you to see and for you to understand. Maybe you will laugh at it, maybe you will cry but most likely you will be filled with a sad feeling that something is very wrong here.