“Illuminati DIA: Tunnel Visions” is all about DIA conspiracy theories

Attention, lizard people, aliens and Freemasons. A new exhibit is open at McNichols Civic Center Building that’s made just for you — and everyone who believes in you.

“Illuminati DIA: Tunnel Visions” is a multi-site “immersive art project” inspired by Denver International Airport’s world-famous conspiracy theories, according to a press statement from Denver Arts & Venues.

It consists of 11 related “interventions” that started in late September and continue through late October/early November, with the jump-off point located at McNichols Civic Center Building, 144 W. Colfax Ave.

The first-floor exhibition, free and open to the public, runs through Oct. 28. But the real mileage is logged when you set out on your self-guided tour from McNichols, with help from artist Ramón Bonilla’s large-scale, abstracted works that get at the “place within a place” theme of this DIA art project.

The sites of the rolling art scavenger hunt “might not be a traditional art space such as a gallery or museum,” organizers wrote. “This is an opportunity to provide experimental art experiences through public, corporate and retail space.”

The official exhibit ends in late October, but some sites will remain installed through early November.

It’s a project that cleverly plays on the enduring popularity of DIA’s many conspiracy theories, which range from tales of swastika-shaped runways to underground bunkers that lead all the way to Cheyenne Mountain, and sinister public-art pieces (see gargoyles, murals and Blucifer, a.k.a. “Mustang” — which actually fell on and killed its creator during the fabrication process).

While the less savory aspects (Nazis in particular) have been ignored by DIA officials, the overall infamy of the airport has been embraced as a marketing tool, leading to millions of dollars in free publicity, according to a former spokesman, and even an in-airport art exhibit five years ago that looked at the two-plus decades of lore.

“Illuminati DIA: Tunnel Visions” certainly has a higher purpose than that, but with fact-free propaganda at a seemingly all-time high in U.S. society, it’s not afraid to engage with the craziness.

“As we continue to heal and recover from the pandemic’s impact, exhibitions like these remind us once again how important it is to experience art in person,” aid Shanna Shelby, Denver Arts and Venues program administrator and curator of McNichols Building exhibitions, in a press statement.

And, might we suggest, how important the fellowship of belief has become in the early-21st century U.S., even if the tin-foil hats are mostly figurative these days. See you in the underground tunnels.

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