A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Reflections on THE RAPE TUNNEL

Many will have noticed the buzz surrounding yesterday’s article. Mindful of the many questions circulating we will now attempt to explain our thoughts and open up the comment box for discussion:

By publishing The Rape Tunnel our intention was to spark conversation on the state of art for a few hours with coverage of an entirely fake art project. We then planned to post a disclaimer revealing The Rape Tunnel as a fake, however, further to the story being picked up Gawker a surge in traffic knocked out our comparatively meager server making that impossible. The site has only just been restored and is still not without problems.

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.

As a publication we support all kinds of voices – the more raw and off the cuff in our opinion the better – and if those voices wish to remain anonymous then we support that too. On this occasion the point for us is not about accountability, but plausibility.

Although the piece was presented as real we left numerous clues as to its falsity such as that Googling the names of those persons or institutions quoted in the text proved unsuccessful, which contrary to Gawker’s hitherto unsuspected naivety we thought would clearly demonstrate that the story was not real.

Is ARTLURKER vying for the title of artist? No. We have run fake stories before, here’s an example, see if you can find more.

Have hoaxes been done before and better? Yes, but our motivation was not primarily to fool or make a fool of the public, it was to comment on the state of art. For us the piece continued a conversation started by Vito Acconci with Seedbed and the work of the artist Chris Burden for whom the idea of personal danger as artistic expression was central. Publications like The Onion and television shows such as Brass Eye, a UK based TV show that for years duped celebrities into believing their wild lies, also informed our decision to publish The Rape Tunnel.

Finally we feel that this story is important simply because it is believable, but we are truly sorry if anyone was upset.



Further to our reflections the previously anonymous author of the infamous and libidinous The Rape Tunnel has decided that he would like to be named. He is none other than ARTLURKER contributor Victor Barrenechea, whom we naturally celebrate for coming forward. He said “I wrote The Rape Tunnel in the spirit of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast. Echoing the above sentiments my personal intention with the piece was not to discuss rape at all, but contemporary art. The character is fictional, the event is fictional… in short it’s a work of fiction.”

This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.


  • Adeaner

    this pretty much makes y’all look like a dumbass.
    do you really have nothing better to do than test people’s blood pressure.

  • Legit

    Punchline of the Rape Tunnel: it turns out that the ones who are truly idiotic are Artlurker and Victor Barrenchea. Kudos!

  • l'elk!

    the idea made me laugh and now knowing that it’s fake makes the story/reactions even more interesting.

    as far as the people leaving comments to insult artlurker, well, that’s where i see the poor taste.

  • asomatous

    I think the article was successful in achieving the sort of response it wanted. The interview format and characterization of the “artist” made the outrageous concept believable. When i realized it was a hoax, i suddenly felt as though the art world had hit…rock bottom.
    It doesn’t matter whether or not this was real, the fact that so many people believed that this project could be conceived and fabricated by the art world really defines what the purpose of art has degraded into in the context of modern society.

  • Donut

    i love how everyone gets all angry and offended and says artlurker is stupid. its funny because none of you who accuse of this understand the point of this. its to stimulate discussion on at which point the line between art and insanity is crossed.

  • dadada

    So where is this great “art” discussion that is the flim flamy justification for a juvenile male thrill?

  • Maalox

    “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 no[sic] so unrealistic today.”

    That’s quite a statement. I’m guessing it never occurred to Artlurker that the state of contemporary art might derive from efforts to appeal to the very mentality that “loves” artistic concepts like a rape tunnel?

  • ChemistrySchmemistry

    At what point do we begin to raise the curtain and come to the realization that much of politically correct modern art these days is simply a hoax?

    I think this is a brilliant illustration, actually. Vic is the modern-day Jackson Pollock. Art has truly completely the journey from that which pleases the senses to that which the government or academia or the art world tells us should please our senses. Thank you.

  • Puss in Boots

    I’m curious why you didn’t moderate the comments that gave away that it was a hoax.

    I could easily believe someone would create such an exhibit. We’re weird, desperate creatures. I probably would have fallen for it if I didn’t see the wind tunnel images on the Gevers site.

    Why let people spoil the “is this art?” discussion with an “is this a hoax?” discussion?

  • doug Kaleda

    This demonstrates the tragic state of what is considered “art” in this country. The only thing missing from the set up was mention of how much tax payer money might have been dumped into such waste.

    Hopefully this will give the reader a better perspective as to what is art, and what is simple shock, and be mindful whenever they hear that a dime of tax payer money is being dumped into what some moron calls “art”.

  • Lol'ing hard

    Pretty much everyone complaining is an idiot. You got trolled and you deserve to be trolled because you’re drooling, unthinking internet cows. This piece was a hoax and was an art piece unto itself, despite the modest line ARTLURKER posts about not claiming to be an artist. It successfully and hilariously critiqued the state of journalism, the state of the bleeding edge art world, and the relationship between the two.

    Mostly, it easily critiques the knee-jerking internet populace who can’t help but have an opinion about everything. And not even a good opinion, or a well typed one. Comments range from the two-word pejorative to the vomit of poorly spelled ‘that’s wrong’ diatribe. Even after it was outed as a hoax in the comments, people couldn’t help but give their slack-jawed, worthless opinions, as if the hoax hadn’t been exposed. Now their stupidity has been crystallized as a canvas of reactionary gobbledegook juxtaposing a hilarious and well-put work of art. At the end I can’t help but thank Sheila Zareno, Victor Barrenechea and the rest of the ARTLURKER staff for a great piece of art in the gallery “space” of the internet. To the rest caught unawares, angry and stupid – you deserve nothing short of utter contempt and ostracism.

  • Marie

    Low blow towards victims of rape. I understand the discussion part but then coming forward and labeling it a hoax is classless. Rape isn’t a joke. There’s better ways of creating discussions about rape than creating falsified information. Really immature

  • Captain Colon

    Does that mean the War of the Worlds is a low blow towards victims of aggressive Martians? The end of the world is no joke, after all. Orson Welles was sooo immature.

  • Gladys Rodriguez

    To be honest, when I first read the piece, I was completely intrigued and did believe that in our contemporary art community today, something like “The Rape Tunnel” could happen. I’m not sure whether I support the methods in which ARTLURKER used to, “stimulate contemporary art conversation”, but it at least produced some sort of debate.

    It just feels as if someone has pulled a really messed up joke on somebody, and no one is laughing. I bet rape victims don’t give a rat’s ass about “contemporary art discussion”.

  • Jenn

    Although you defend your intention to discuss the state of contemporary art, did you ever stop to think about the repercussions this hoax would have on the discussion of rape? An article exploring that concept would have been far more interesting and powerful.

  • Sad that we believed

    The sad part in all this, is that we live in a world where something like this can be believed. Have you watched reality TV? Most of it is all about how much they can hurt the contestants psychologically. They try to turn people on each other, make them distrustful. It’s no wonder we believe a rape tunnel when we see it, because we keep half expecting to see a tv show that follows a man around as he rapes and murders women. Why does this idea concern us? Because we are afraid people are going to like it.

  • Sarah

    I don’t think people should have believed it in the first place.. but secondly, everyone shouldn’t have gotten so mad! Obviously it was a joke.. but maybe it should have been focused around a less sensitive subject.

    Arizona Art Gallery

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Reflections on THE RAPE TUNNEL