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Vela Phelan

first performed on October 20, 2012
Time Space Body Objects, Anthony Greaney Gallery, Boston, MA
performed once in 2012


Brooklyn, NY


In this performance, I elongated the act of cooking a lobster for dinner. Taking my cue from David Foster Wallace’s noted essay of the same title, I silently communicated with a live lobster for 20 minutes. Quietly, I told the lobster about the prolonged, graphic death of my beloved grandfather. I silently explained to the lobster that I was going to kill it as quickly and mercifully as possible and then reincorporate it into my body. Next, I methodically revealed a hot plate and lobster pot to the audience and the animal. As I placed the lobster in the pot to cook, my performance was interrupted by two fellow performance artists. Sandrine Schaefer pulled the electrical cord out of the wall to stop the performance. Sandy Huckleberry, a veteran performance artist and member of the Boston-based Mobius group, knocked over the lobster pot, spilling boiling water and a scalding hot plate on me. Huckleberry then stole the lobster and ran out of the gallery into the night. The audience was convinced that the confrontation was a planned intervention.

Huckleberry later said that she “released the lobster into Pleasure Bay, under a blanket of stars.”

Huckleberry, who once killed and ate a live rabbit on stage, later stated that she felt that she was being made complicit in the lobster’s suffering. She also stated that she currently eats lobster in restaurants but does not cook them herself. Huckleberry claimed not to have realized that she was also stealing my dinner.

Sandrine Schaefer did not comment.