The news that an artist kills 9,000 butterflies would likely make national news for a day or two, with animal rights being a hot topic in most Western societies, but when an artist with Damien Hirst's profile does it, it sticks.
According to Examiner, Hirst is being severely criticised for his role in killing 9,000 butterflies over a 23 -week period while his retrospective included the In and Out of Love piece. One of us at Contact Music went along, and while the butterflies made for an impressive art piece, one does question the right of one to slaughter so many. "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," a PETA representative said. "Butterflies are beautiful parts of nature and should be enjoyed in the wild instead of destroyed for something predictable and unimaginative."
The Tate Modern, which enjoyed over 400,000 visitors to see the retrospective, defended Damien Hirst and his work. They said: "The butterflies used in this work were all...selected from varieties known to thrive in the conditions created. The butterflies lived out the final stage of their natural life cycle inside this room."