So says the artist. "They completely ignored the concept and ideology behind this particular art work." But that art exhibit put the toads, tarantulas, lizards, crickets and scorpions in an environment designed to provoke them into violence. "It’s pretty clear that the intention is that the observer is intended to witness potential conflict between the animals which frankly I think is kind of sick," said the Humane Society spokesman.
That terrarium was "a microcosm of global conflict and power dynamics" that "functions as a metaphor for the conflicts among different peoples and culture — in short, human existence itself." That is to say the toads, tarantulas, lizards, crickets and scorpions were supposed to do vicious things to each other to express the artist's ideology. The SPCA people wanted to add water bowls and hiding places and transform the gallery into something more like a pet shop -- which would destroy the whole concept of Huang Yong Ping's "Theatre of the World."
So: Artist's expression versus the welfare of toads, tarantulas, lizards, crickets and scorpions.
In the end, the animals were removed from the exhibit, which I think was the right choice. They were being mistreated, and to stop mistreating them would wreck the artist's message. The animals won, yet so did the artist. His show -- in Vancouver -- has received immense publicity. 5,000 people have already seen it with all that toad/tarantula/lizard/cricket/scorpion strife, and now everyone's talking about it.
Isn't the interaction with the animal welfare crowd part of the artwork, the larger performance -- in the theatre of the world? I think that statement from the artist, quoted above, shows him intentionally stoking the conflict in the world beyond the terrarium. The idea that his rights were "violently" interfered with -- surely, he meant to set you off. How can violence to an abstraction compare to the violence of the toads, tarantulas, lizards, crickets and scorpions attacking each other? He made you think that. He made you subordinate art to insignificant creatures. A powerful performance.