What’s The Point Of This Artist’s “Rape Tunnel?”

This is Richard Whitehurst, a Clevelad, OH based artist. His latest project is a 22 foot long tunnel made out of plywood, which leads to a small “project room.” If you choose to go through the tunnel, you should know something. When you get to the room, Whitehurst will be waiting, and he’s going to rape you. Um, what?

According to Whitehurst:

“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.”

Okay, so what’s the point of this little art project? Is it rape if the “victim” enters into the tunnel willingly, knowing what lies again? Jessica suggested maybe it has something to do with the nature of consent, but I think he could be making some sort of convoluted point about how much responsibility victims hold for the crimes against them. More than likely, however, he could just be being SHOCKING and CONTROVERSIAL for the sake of attention. He does emphasize, “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.”

Regardless, what is anyone getting out of this little art project? This is an example of something I consistently despise about shock art — the message isn’t clear and isn’t meant for anyone but the academic elite to digest. We — meaning you and I and everyone else not smart enough to “get” the point — are not “supposed” to understand. It’s not meant for us. But I believe real art should be meant for the masses — that’s not to say it should be simplistic, but art should make everyone think, not just those with an Ivy League degree or pretentious sense of self-importance. Here’s to hoping a 300 lb man comes crawling through Whitehurst’s rape tunnel! Good luck, buddy. [Gawker]