Artist Damien Hirst is under fire for clipping the wings of over 9,000 butterflies for an art exhibition. Several animal rights organizations are up in arms after it was revealed that almost 400 died every seven days during the 23-week showcase. Hirst is known for his creative yet controversial art, having previously showcased a decapitated cow head as well as a formaldehyde-soaked shark.
Hirst’s piece titled "In And Out Of Love" was held at an exhibition at the Tate Modern in London with two windowless rooms filled with the winged beauties. The artist is now facing criticism from the RSPCA.
A spokesman for the RSPCA spoke out saying, “In this so-called ‘art exhibition,’ butterflies are forced to exist in the artificial environment of a closed room for their entire lives. There would be national outcry if the exhibition involved any other animal, such as a dog. Just because it’s butterflies, that does not mean they do not deserve to be treated with kindness.”
However, some are coming to Hirst’s defense saying that the butterflies may have lived a longer life thanks to Hirst. A representative from Tate Modern came to the artist’s defense saying, “The butterflies used in this [Hirst’s] work were all sourced from reputable UK butterfly houses and were selected from varieties known to thrive in the conditions created.”
He went on to say, “The butterflies lived out the final stage of their natural life cycle inside this room. Approximately 400 butterflies were introduced to the exhibition over the course of each week, with many enjoying longer life spans than in the wild due to the high quality of this environment.”