But chickens can’t “chicken out”
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1997:
OTTAWA––Video artist Rob
Thompson, 40, on October 8 chose Eric
Wolf, 24, and Pamela Meldrum, 27, from
Aylmer, Quebec, from among 80 applicants
to spend the week of October 26-November 1
in a refrigerator-sized cage under conditions
replicating those of factory-farmed chickens.
Meldrum and Wolf will each be paid
$2,500. They will be allowed to eat only a
vegetarian mash, drink only from a hose, and
wear only long underwear, socks, shoes, and
a knit cap. They will have no amusements,
and no bathing facilities, but will enjoy a
chemical toilet and solid floor instead of having
to defecate through a wire floor.
Meldrum, a pharamacy technician,
in order to win the role practiced sitting eight
hours a day in a practice coop her boyfriend
built. “I want to test my ability to empathize
with the chickens,” she said. “I’m a vegetarian,
and I don’t agree with the way most animals
are raised.” She added that the toilet
would be a luxury, since she normally lives in
a one-room cabin with no indoor bathroom.
Wolf’s girlfriend, Rhonda Major,
said she hoped the caging would encourage
Wolf, an Ottawa baker, to give up meat.
“I’m a vegetarian,” she told Canadian Press,
“but he’s an out-and-out carnivore.”
British vegetarian author and animal
rights activist Rebecca Hall in 1993 offered
$15,000 to four chicken farmers if they could
live in similar conditions for a week, but they
lasted only 18 hours in an unheated barn.
Wolf and Meldrum will be on display
around the clock at Thompson’s SAW
Gallery in downtown Ottawa––which is heated––under
observation of a nurse and security
guards who will monitor them 24 hours a day
by closed circuit video.
Thompson, who eats meat, says the
performance was inspired by “farmers who
wouldn’t dream of abusing their pets, yet subject
chickens or cows or whatever to torture.”
Pursuing a parallel theme, protesters
including Ottawa student Mike Finlayson,
dressed as a turkey, hung a 20-foot banner
protesting turkey slaughter from the
MacKenzie King Bridge near Parliament on
October 10, Canadian Thanksgiving.