The mysterious case of missing art curator Barton Kestle

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The Museum of Jurassic Technology would approve.



This happened more than a decade ago during the so-called ‘Age of Truthiness’ and is just another in a long series of unhelpful fake art hoaxes.

We are now living in the age of Lies, Misinformation, Disinformation and Pernicious Mass-Manipulation. These are real problems with serious consequences so lets feature some artists taking resposibility and addressing these issues!

This reminds me of all the designers and would-be philanthropists who set out to ‘Raise Awareness’ of a particular issue rather than trying to actually solve the problem.

Fuck that noise.


I knew something was up as soon as I read that he had card catalogues in his office. A museum would never board up an office with catalogues in it. At the very least they would have moved them out first so they’re available for reference. Not to mention that nobody can afford to let office space go to waste like that.


I was really intrigued until I got to this point and I realized it was an art piece, and I suddenly had to shift gears as to my expectations as to where this was going and what I was going to get out of it. To be fair to the artist, in context viewers wouldn’t have come into it believing that story was true, so expectations would have been different to begin with.

I wouldn’t call it a hoax, I’d call it a story. And yeah, there was a period of time where a lot of art installations were being framed by stories. It’s clearly not real, nor intended to be fully taken that way (decontextualizing the story and putting it into a blog post creates a different set of expectations, but even here, the story is quickly revealed to be fiction with the rapid introduction of implausible elements). The fairy-tale-like narrative fits neatly within the context of stories for art pieces - it’s fantastical in specific sorts of ways (that would be familiar to art audiences of the time).

Boarding up the office in the first place is a real giveaway - that’s the kind of thing that rarely happens in any context, and certainly not in response to a museum worker disappearing. That’s where the story turns into a fable, a winking explanation for why there’s a fully-intact fantasy version of a museum curator’s office in a gallery.


It’s sort of the real life version of a mediocre “AI” image. Almost good enough to fool you, then you go “wait, what is that?”



There’s a bit of a Meow Wolf vibe here too. Now I have to go. I haven’t seen my partner all afternoon, time to board up her office.


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