artlurker : Why rape?
Richard Whitehurst : Because as an artistic gesture, it’s one of the most impactful I can think of.
I started to think differently about my work. In 2007 at the Seward Projects Space in Columbus, I had my first breakthrough with an installation that was to be the prototype for this current one. It was called THE PUNCH-YOU-IN-THE-FACE TUNNEL. It was the same set-up as THE RAPE TUNNEL except at the end of the tunnel I’d punch the subject in the face instead of raping him or her. The impetus was completely reactionary to the current state of art, and motivated by pure frustration.
As it turns out, I ended up breaking the nose of the third person to crawl through the tunnel, an aspiring model. She went to the hospital and eventually sued me. Her modeling career was put on hold. The civil case was long and drawn out and the matter still hasn’t been resolved. To this day she still has unpaid medical bills. The point of this long aside is that all this took place two years ago, and I’m still having an impact on this young lady’s life, something not many other artists could claim about their work.
Rape seemed like the next logical step.
Artist built “Rape Tunnel” a big hoax
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.”