Artist Damien Hirst isn’t known for catering to animal lovers. In the past, he’s used a dead shark and a severed cow’s head to express his creativity, something which has garnered him both praise and criticism. Many think Hirst isn’t being creative at all, but the heart of the problem is that he’s using living or once-living creatures for his own advancement in the art world.
Most recently, Hirst used over 9,000 butterflies in an installation at the Tate Modern, and while they insist that each variety was carefully selected “for their ability to thrive in the conditions created”–which included flying around two large, windowless rooms full of art patrons–over 400 butterflies died per week during the installation.
PETA had something to say about it, releasing a statement about the deaths and Hirst’s disregard for living creatures:
Damien Hirst’s quest to be edgy is as boring as it is callous. It does not matter whether Hirst killed the animals himself or sat by while thousands of them were massacred for his own unjustifiable amusement. Butterflies are beautiful parts of nature and should be enjoyed in the wild instead of destroyed for something predictable and unimaginative.
Hirst has drawn criticism not just from animal rights groups, but from supporters of the arts who don’t believe he used good judgement this time around. As for Hirst, he says that he hired a butterfly expert at great personal expense to ensure the environment was “perfect” for them and even “resulted in many butterflies enjoying longer lifespans due to the high quality of the environment and food provided.”