With scenes depicting burning forests, chemical warfare and even a dead dove skewered at the end of a masked Nazi’s machete, Denver Airport holds some the most mysterious and grotesque artwork around.
At 53 square miles, Denver International is the third largest airport in the world. It boasts six runways, over 30 million passengers a year and 33,000 acres of expensive coffee shops, duty free and other facilities that you’d expect to be extorted by at an airport; however this is where the normalities end. Within its walls, Denver Airport holds some of the most ominous artwork to ever be publically displayed. In plain view for all to see, the walls are decorated with bizarre murals depicting the burning remains of large cities, dying children of all races, chemical warfare and even a dead dove skewered at the end of a masked Nazi’s machete – hardly a welcoming sight for new arrivals.
As well as artwork that looks like an Illuminati master plan, the airport is also peppered with Freemason symbolism, chemical element abbreviations and even a giant statue of Anubis – the Egyptian god of death. With an interior designer with a penchant for apocalyptic doom and the Orwellian lifestyle, and even tales of underground bases beneath the site, Denver Airport has caused controversy since its creation.
The obscurities began as early as 1995 when the structure alone raised many questions, as Denver International Airport (DIA) was funded almost entirely by a private investor that staked $4.8 billion on the place. Originally, five pentagonal buildings were built for the airport at around 120 feet high, with 12 stories each. These towers were apparently constructed with errors, so the investor went back to the drawing board and redesigned the blueprints. With a build that’d leave even Kevin McCloud speechless, it doesn’t seem unusual that the investor would want to get the arrangement perfect, but generally when a construction is to be redesigned and replaced, its predecessor is demolished. However, DIA’s miscalculated structures were buried underground and built on top of. This makes it the first building in history to use this method on such a gigantic scale. The size of these now extensive underground caverns has bred tinfoil hat induced hysteria amongst the conspiracy community, who feel that they could be used as modern day concentration camps by FEMA, should the shit hit the fan.
So after digging out more earth than the forging of the Panama Canal took, loading the place with 5,300 miles of fibre optic cable, fitting a Teflon coated roof that makes it a ghost to radar and installing six tanks that hold nearly 3 million gallons of jet fuel, DIA was finished, at a ridiculous $3 billion over budget. The overspend triggered a barrage of reports and investigations into claims of embezzlement and fraud, but many feel this was simply a smoke screen used to divert attention from the idea that extra funds were used to buy equipment for a more shadowy purpose. After all, with three water and power back up systems, fields of additional solar panels and 6 enormous ventilation shafts jutting out miles from the airport, the place begins to look more like the Outer Heaven fortress than a normal airport for tourists and business class jet setters.
Now we delve into the rabbit hole, or rather the baggage hold, when considering what must’ve been running through Leo Tanguma’s head – or rather his system – when he decided to adorn DIA’s walls with images of monstrous atrocities, when receiving his commission. Leo Tanguma is the artist responsible for the ominous paintings, and in true conspiracy flame fanning fashion, he has changed his story about them time and again. In some interviews, he has stated that a strict guideline was given to him by the investor, and in others that he was given free range to paint whatever he pleased.
The first mural is actually a beautiful scene of peace on earth that shows children of all races playing together with animals of all kinds. They all have smiles on their faces as they look happily toward a colourful glowing flower. The only thing strange about this one is that all the Asian children are looking the other way, although this could just be a coincidence.
The next mural seems to have ground the daisy chain production line to a halt, as it depicts something much more sinister and disturbing than the peaceful scenes of its predecessor. The central image shows five young children mourning the death of three women laid to rest in open caskets below them. One of the children is holding a stone tablet, which some claim is actually engraved with symbols that relate to the Mayan doomsday prophecy. The tranquil backdrops of the first mural are replaced with scenes of apocalyptic chaos and images of dead animals with extinct labels attached to them. Burning forests can also be seen, whilst the first glimpse of urban civilisation sits in the form of a city on the horizon. The city has since been painted over due to a mass of complaints from passengers, that said it resembled the 9/11 atrocities too closely. Conspiracy theorists claim this to be a hollow gesture though, as they see it as checking an item off of a list – as if the powers that be are using these murals to keep track of their heinous plans.
Moving on to the third mural, where the situation has taken a turn for the better. The children of the world have united to topple the statue of a spooky looking dictator that now has two doves resting upon its Kalashnikov. Their Goonie revolution has disarmed the tyrants of the world and they now play with their swords like toys. Bear in mind that all the Asian kids are still looking the wrong way, almost as if they can see something that the others can’t. All the disaster seems to have been averted though, as they rejoice in their new found freedom whilst surrounded by an unfurling rainbow.
This rainbow leads to the fourth mural, where the revolution seems to have been short-lived. The statue of the dictator may have been knocked down, but he has returned in person with a menacing gas mask and what appears to be Third Reich officers uniform. The doves that rested upon his machine gun are now impaled at the end of his sword as he looms threateningly over a dystopian city. The peace is shattered. A line of grieving mothers and hopeless souls can be seen nursing their lifeless children into the vanishing horizon in the background. The rainbow threads around the scene and fades into a grey cloud-like plume – something that could be interpreted as chemtrails being dispersed into the air. The gasmask worn by the Nazi does seem to suggest this. Finally, in the bottom left corner of the scene, at the end of the caustic plume and crumbling buildings, is a poem written by Hama Herchenberg, who died in Auschwitz in 1943 aged 16.
Taking people out of their cosy little readymade bubble is a service that art excels in, but depicting the death of civilisation via a masked tyrant in Nazi garb is surely trying to say something more.
It reads: “I was once a little child, who longed for other worlds. But I am no more a child for I have known fear. I have learned to hate… How tragic, then, is youth which lives with enemies, with gallows ropes. Yet, I still believe I only sleep today, that I’ll wake up, a child again, and start to laugh and play.”
Now if this is supposed to be some kind of bizarre tribute to the victims of genocide, then it has been done in bad taste. Taking people out of their cosy little readymade bubble is a service that art excels in, but depicting the death of civilisation via a masked tyrant in Nazi garb is surely trying to say something more. There is something overtly sinister about this artwork that just doesn’t add up as a means of tribute. The murals, combined with a message etched into a masonic plinth in the main terminal – that speaks of a “New World Airport Commission” which simply does not exist – breed a sense of ominous secrecy that conspiracy theorist are often not so deluded to pounce on.
Many of these murals have recently been painted over, but as well as apocalyptic paintings, the airport also has a runway system that forms a Swastika, a giant blue mustang statue with red eyes, obsidian gargoyles and a time capsule buried in the “Great Hall”. Whether you believe the cloak and dagger claims of the conspiracy rangers or not, something strange is evidently going on at Denver Airport.