The Rape Tunnel

A good friend of mine sent me an article that he wanted me to blog about. Frankly, I had a lot on my mind at the moment to write here and I'll be sure to have those ideas here soon, but after sitting with the idea for a little while, this post sort of wrote itself in my head. What is a rather shocking, terrible subject just sort of came out as preposterously humorous to me. I hope you share the same sentiment, otherwise this may get a little uncomfortable.


Richard Whitehurst of Columbus, Ohio, is working on his next artistic piece to open at the William Strunk, Jr. Museum of Contemporary Art in Akron. This piece is... get ready now... The Rape Tunnel. Those who crawl into the 22-foot long, steadily shrinking tunnel will eventually find themselves in a small room in which Whitehurst will do all he can to rape those who cross his one-way path.


Whitehurst claims he's undertaking this work because art lately is only relevant to the artistic community and he needs to do somethings so shocking that it reaches the world at large. By the mere fact that my friend sent me a link about this work and that I'm blogging about it here is essentially proving that point. But there's something more to the piece than just shock value.

The precursor to this work was Whitehurst's Punch-You-In-The-Face Tunnel. Those who enter the tunnel of similar design would enter a room in which the artist would punch the person in the face. Here's where things go a little awry. In this article, Whitehurst makes reference of a young woman who was a fledgling model who broke her nose after Whitehurst punched her in the face after crawling in the tunnel. She sued and after two years, the case is still in contention. I'm wondering what was she expecting to happen.

Let me get this straight. She sees a tunnel that's clearly marked and explained as a tunnel in which if you enter it, you'll get punched in the face. Was she expecting cake? It would be like crossing into Dante's Inferno and whistling a hopeful tune. Who does this woman think she is entering the tunnel and not expecting to get punched in the face? She entered a contract. There was a meeting of the minds. In fact, it would be a breach of contract if she didn't get punched in the face.

And did this go to trial? I don't want to see the case. I don't want to hear the arguments. I just want to witness the voir dire and then be a fly on the wall in the jury room.

"She should receive damages. Her nose is broken."
"But how hard should she have been punched in the face?"
"Is there a soft face-punching I don't know about?"

Then we move forward into the rape. Of course it was the next logical step. There's less ambiguity should things become litigious.

"She chose to crawl in the tunnel. He can't be a fault."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. He's pretty guilty."

If Whitehurst isn't found to be at fault here for raping the willing, would this be considered soliciting prostitution? Oh sure, Whitehurst clearly states he "[plans] to make the experience as unpleasant as [he] possibly can to anyone who dares to crawl through the tunnel," but this could just mean each idiot who crawls into The Rape Tunnel and gets just what s/he asked for could be soliciting prostitution with a serious S&M edge to it. The state may not win the war here with law this vague in this case, but there could be a victory in the battle here for the City of Akron, unless the 1st Amendment wins out here (which it probably will).

But what really gets me here is that this is the actual depiction of a horror movie. You can truly witness a bad decision as it happens. Sure a house could look spooky, especially on a stormy night, but unless there's just bad construction or a shifting foundation, you could probably walk through a big scary house at night with no problem. This is a clear marked tunnel that will say, "if you enter here, bad things will surely happen. You're an idiot if you enter it." There should be a group of black people sitting right by the entrance, watching everyone in the gallery and then yelling at people who eye the tunnel too long, "NUH-UH GIRL! DON'T GO IN THERE! YOU GON' GET RAPED!"

Sure, Whitehurst is making a statement about how art makes a real statement to real people, but deep down, he's making a statement about how much people are willing to make obviously stupid decisions.

EDIT: It turns out this whole thing was a fake. Although, I totally know who William Strunk is; I just thought they named a museum after him as an honor, not as a punchline. It's a funny idea but now I feel sort of silly writing this thing out. At least it was funny. It was funny, right?

Thanks to my friend, Alvin, for shedding light on all this.


Anonymous said…
i enjoyed this post. your summary was well put and i would not have thought of it that way. i'm amazed people went in the first tunnel.

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