Sniffy the Rat artist plans a naked walk in downtown Vancouver

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      The man responsible for the most controversial performance art in Vancouver history is planning another shocker.

      At noon on Friday (February 10), Rick Gibson will walk naked in front of the courthouses along Hornby Street and then along Robson Street.

      It's to advance his argument that human gene editing be legalized "so that we could start creating Vancouverites that were better adapted to living in a cool, wet climate".

      "I want to set an example of what we should be aiming for as individuals in a genetically modified society," Gibson said in a statement emailed to the Georgia Straight. "Environmentalists will support me on this one. Using less clothing, heating fuel and insulation is a goal advocated by all environmentalists. Changing humans on a genetic level is yet another way to achieve this goal."

      He pointed out that the Yahgan people at the southern tip of South America lived completely naked in a place that's far colder than Vancouver.

      On his website, the Vancouver artist maintains that public nudity is legal if it's nonsexual, nonharassing, and for the public good.

      "I cannot see any British Columbian politician opposing a display that proposes an environmental strategy that would perpetually benefit all British Columbians," he stated.

      In 1990, Gibson created an uproar when he declared he would drop a large cement block on a rat named Sniffy near the corner of Burrard and Robson streets.

      The resulting blood and shattered body parts were to be captured on canvases and preserved as art.

      To Gibson, this was a more humane way for Sniffy to meet his demise than by being fed to a snake in a pet store.

      The plan sent animal-rights activists into overdrive with demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns. The show never took place.

      But it did spawn another performance, The 10th Anniversary Sniffy the Rat Bus Tour, that took people to sites around the city, including where Gibson lived when he conceived the stunt.