Spanish artist's dying crickets glued to wall spark cruelty claims


Ismael Alabado investigated by Cáceres police

The thousand chirruping crickets went on sale as food for pet iguanas, but the Spanish artist Ismael Alabado decided they would look better glued to a wall, dying a slow death for the sake of art.

Some visitors to his exhibition, held in Cáceres, western Spain, were nonplussed, but others were outraged. One visitor went off to find some insecticide and returned to put the crickets out of their misery.

Now police are investigating whether to prosecute for animal cruelty, as Alabado claims curtailment to his artistic freedom.

The insecticide sprayer told Hoy newspaper: “I was appalled when I saw hundreds of crickets glued to the wall, moving their legs without being able to free themselves. I complained to the organisers and said that if they couldn’t do anything, then I would. I went home, grabbed the insecticide and sprayed them. I don’t understand such cruelty. Is that really art?”

Alabado insists it is. “I want spectators to understand that just as the crickets are stuck, so they are stuck by their own social rules and to the world, without realising that everything is drawing to an end. This woman has acted like a Taliban, restricting creative and cultural freedom. Some people were upset, but only those who do not have an open mind.”

Organisers said the fly spray failed to kill most of the crickets, but within four days the rest had died of starvation.

“They can’t suffer because they have no nervous system,” the 34-year-old artist said. “It’s like cutting a plant.”

Alabado could be fined up to €15,000. “Cruelty to animals cannot be justified … be it for art or for science,” said Javier Alonso de la Torre, cultural promotion head in the regional government.

appalled: oburzony; przerażony

chirrup: świergotać

cricket: świerszcz

curtailment: ograniczenie

grab: chwytać, łapać

insecticide: środek owadobójczy

nonplussed: niepewny

prosecute: wnosić oskarżenie

spectator: widz

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