Enter at Your Own Risk: Rape Tunnel Turns Art Hoax

I don’t know much about contemporary art. To be honest, I actually don’t have a clue about the topic but when I read about a project where an artist was building a wooden tunnel where he would wait at the end to – wait for it – rape anyone who dared to make it through I was shocked, disgusted, and, well, skeptical. Could this be real?

The artist, Richard Whitehurst’s, description of the project was horrifying:

“In the 4D Gallery main room, I’ve constructed a 22 ft tunnel out of plywood that leads into the project room. There is no way in or out of the project room except for this tunnel. As you travel through the tunnel, it gets smaller and smaller, making it so that you have to crawl and put yourself in a submissive position in order to reach the tunnel’s destination. At the end of the tunnel the subject will find me waiting in the project room and I’ll try to the best of my ability to overpower and rape the person who crawls through.”

Whitehurst continued:

“First of all, I want to make it clear that I plan to make the experience as unpleasant as I possibly can to anyone who dares to crawl through the tunnel. I will try to the best of my ability to make them regret their decision.”

What gallery in their right mind would allow for such a project? How is that even legal? You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought.

Well, jokes on me. It’s fake (Thank God!).

Artlurker, the site that initially posted about the project (a site whose account has been suspended since the incident), has confirmed that the project was a hoax and only posted an article about the fake project on their website to “spark conversation on the state of art.”

They added:

“When the author of The Rape Tunnel pitched the idea to us we loved it. Of course it’s an extremely sensitive subject, but our motivation for publishing the piece was to comment on contemporary art, not rape.

“We cannot say what the intentions of the author were, but ours were simple: to generate conversation on the state of contemporary art based on the fact that an event like this is not so unrealistic today. So we edited the piece like we would any other and published it.”

Again, I don’t know much about contemporary art, but to create a fake project around rape is wrong on so many levels. An event like this may be “so unrealistic” in an art gallery (again, thank God), but it is not “so unrealistic” in every day life. Not at all. Women are raped every single day, and not always at the end of a dark, scary tunnel. No, in fact, it’s more common for a woman to be raped by someone she knows, a friend or an acquaintance, in her own home. And only 6% of rapists ever spend a day in jail – most walk free, continuing to terrorize women. That is the bleak reality.

The intent of this project may have been to “spark conversation on the state of art” but was using rape as a vehicle the right choice?

No, I don’t think so. The idea of using the act of rape as art is unbelievable, not to mention disturbing, insensitive, and cruel. Rape is a serious problem; using it as a ploy to discuss art is wrong and only serves to diminish the severity of a problem that affects thousands of woman every year. Just because the project wasn’t real, doesn’t it mean it was right.
Check out the entire fake interview on The Rape Tunnel project here.

Rape jokes aren’t funny (or right) either – Read more.

Photo copyright: Photo from Miami News Times blog - http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2009/09/about_that_rape_tunnel_did_art.php


Barb F.
Barb F8 years ago

Appalled, sickened and seething, this degenerate should not ever be labeled or defined as an "artist", it would however be appropriate that he was referred to "as patient number 69844 who resides behind bars for the criminally insane"

Fen drayton
Fen Drayton8 years ago

Before I could say it was or wasn't right or wrong to build this, I'd have to find the "art" part of it. So far I only see a wooden structure, and because of the distance away from the camera, I can't even tell if it is well made or not. Good kindling though....

Jordan Hill
Jordan Hill8 years ago

I disagree, this is real art. Art has no shoulds defining it.

Velene Campbell
Velene Campbell9 years ago

This has nothing to do with real art. Rape is a terrible reality, and if it's going to be discussed through art, it should be an honest and wrenching statement, not just an easy and flippant one born from a desire for attention by a person who is no artist, and who has no talent,

Johnathan S.
Johnathan S9 years ago

Art is meant to help people express feelings and ideas in ways that words can not. I feel very sorry and disappointed for the people who think they can do this through trapping and terrorizing others.

Bob C.
Past Member 9 years ago

So B. says: "Sensationalism is soooooo played out in the art world."

I totally agree. Sensationalism is played-out in the art world the same way that LOUD is played-out in the rock music world. Will no longer tolerate "live" concerts where the decibel level is painful. That's so unnecessary. Have also walked out of movie theaters where the sound volume was set too high.

But back to the point: While I agree that sensationalism is passe, satire is not. As long as there's still an ounce of insensitivity, hypocrisy, pretentiousness, or other forms of stupidity left in the art world; then ridiculing it is not only okay but necessary. I read that article ("Rape Tunnel") more as sarcastic satire and a critique of some conceptual art than as any sort of endorsement of rape or of using rape as a theme in conceptual art.

For the sake of the satirically-challenged (present company excepted, of course) I offer this analogy: The authors of that article "endorsed" rape just as Stephen Colbert "endorses" right-wing idiocy. They just didn't do it anywhere near as artfully as Stephen does!

Christina M.
Christina M9 years ago

Bringing rape into art does nothing for it or the publishers except offend and instigate people.

What did rape have to do with the subject anyway?!

Angele Himaya
Angele Himaya9 years ago

Just ask a woman who has been raped if THEY think it is a hoax or a joke!!! Are you kidding!!! Rape is not a form of art in any way shape or form nor is just the inference of rape funny. How dare you use this a vehicle to promote art, you are disgusting.

Tamara A.
Tamara A9 years ago

It's still farting-higher-than-your-ass sophistry.
It's still CRAP on the artistic level.
He's still not helping.

Grinding wheel on a stupid pretentious SOB's Pieces Parts...why hadn't _I_ thought of that? Perhaps I SHOULD re-evaluate my opinion of performance art and try my hand at it.

Rick B.
Rick B9 years ago

I don't really know what to say about "the rape tunnel". However, I do clearly know that demographically, women are the largest growing group of people being incarcerated by the USA. Many female lesbian correctional officers who have been hired are now taking sexual advantage of female inmates by imposing unnecessary strip searches on the inmates. At a minimum, they are "getting off" on seeing these vulnerable women naked.