Why Is the Denver Airport So Weird?

Equine art lives in many airports: Seattle and San Francisco have bronze horses shaped like driftwood, Central Illinois has wire horses suspended from the ceiling, Tucson has a winged horse and Barcelona has a burly horse.

None of them have a horse like Blucifer.

Rearing 32 feet tall in a median outside Denver International Airport, the cobalt-colored, demon-eyed, vein-streaked steed has terrified travelers and mobilized conspiracy theorists since it arrived 15 years ago. First, though, it killed its creator.

The artist Luis Jimenez designed the statue, officially known as “Mustang,” to make reference to Mexican murals and the energy of the Southwest, with glowing red eyes meant as a homage to his father’s neon workshop. The horse came to stand for something darker: In 2006, as Mr. Jimenez was finishing the 9,000-pound cast-fiberglass sculpture, a piece came loose and fatally severed an artery in his leg.

A giant, murderous stallion makes sense as a mascot for an airport with notoriety to spare, where a nearby art installation can be misconstrued as a portrayal of the Covid-19 virus and a rumor — that a humanoid reptilian race lives under the facility — can surface on the popular sitcom “Abbott Elementary.” The actor Macaulay Culkin, famous for navigating the horror of Manhattan during holiday season, tweeted that “the Denver Airport is the scariest place I’ve ever been in my life.”

The Denver airport tall tales tend to not be particularly dangerous or politically salient, drawing instead from a persistent fascination with extraterrestrials, the paranormal, “all sorts of nonsense,” said Joseph Uscinski, a professor of political science and a conspiracy theory expert at the University of Miami.

The airport straddles two traditions of American fibbing, according to Dylan Thuras, a co-founder of Atlas Obscura, a travel media company focused on unusual destinations. Over the past decade, the airport has edged into a space occupied by online conspiracy theories that may focus on physical places and urban planning concepts, like the 15-minute city, without translating into actual tourism.

Then there’s the kind of kitsch folklore that has inspired multiple groups in Washington State to offer Bigfoot hunting expeditions; one has a $245 day tour with lessons in “techniques that have proven to lure in Sasquatch.”

“It’s hard to compete, if you’re a tourism bureau, on your wineries or your beaches because every place has wineries and lots of places have beaches,” Mr. Thuras said. “People are drawn to mythic stories.”

In Denver — a city with a park built atop thousands of corpses and near radium-contaminated streets, a psychedelic art installation masquerading as a multidimensional gateway and a restaurant housed in a mortuary that reportedly once held Buffalo Bill Cody’s remains — it can seem as if everyone one encounters has a take on the airport.

Restaurant servers say the runways are shaped like a swastika (something airport representatives vehemently deny, explaining that the design allows for multiple simultaneous takeoffs and landings). Airline employees report glimpsing ghosts and claim that Native American music is played at night to appease the spirits of the dead buried below (Ms. Stegman said there are no graves and that the music is part of an art installation that, if not for a finicky sound system, would be on all the time). Uber drivers believe that dirt left over from the airport’s construction was used to create artificial mountains to stash food for the apocalypse (Ms. Stegman just laughed and said she had not heard that one).

The airport’s isolated location and disorienting size — the land that it owns makes it the second-largest airport in the world, after the King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia, and bigger than actual U.S. cities, such as San Francisco — lends itself to online mumblings that it will someday be used as a prison or concentration camp by a mysterious totalitarian global government known as the New World Order.

“I actually think that’s the best way to view art — when it kind of happens to you,” Dr. Magnatta said. “It’s art that is made a part of everyday life, and you’re forced to encounter it whether you want to or not, which can be a really powerful thing and a starting point for conversation.”

The removal of the Denver airport murals sparked rumors in Telegram channels and Reddit forums that construction was a cover for burying the truth. Ms. Stegman said the airport will always embrace “the conspiracy part” of its identity but is not trying to hide anything.

As for the mystery disappearance of the murals? They’re in temporary storage to avoid damage, and will return.

Sahred From Source link Travel

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