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Jan Fabre Accused of Animal Abuse for Exhibition at Russia’s Hermitage Museum

Sophia Kishkovsky of the Art Newspaper reports that Belgian artist Jan Fabre has upset animal rights activists and Russian Orthodox fundamentalists over his exhibition “Knight of Despair/Warrior of Beauty” at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The show features works made from taxidermied roadkill, such as rabbits, birds, dogs, and cats.

The exhibition, which runs through April 30, 2017, is part of the Hermitage’s project to showcase contemporary art at one of the world’s most renowned classical museums. Fabre intends these artworks to be statements about the horrors of animal abuse. A wall label for the show reads, “Abandoned, starving, hanging around near busy roads, these animals are afforded a final accolade in this art. Like an exorcist, Jan Fabre tries to bring them back to life in a carnivalesque set-up.” The general director of the Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovsky, said, “Everything is completely clear with Fabre. You don’t have to be a genius to understand what he’s saying, so he definitely does not deserve any accusation of mistreating animals.” Piotrovsky also went on to say that the amount of anger directed at Fabre “has shown the overall level of hatred that exists in Russia, hatred for the other.”

Nonetheless, Fabre’s been in trouble for using animals in his work before. The artist was criticized for tossing cats into the air for a 2012 performance in Antwerp.