No, we are not talking about handcrafted whoopie cushions.
And while those prank calls you made before the internet and call-waiting ended a whole sub-genre of DIY home entertainment were no doubt hilarious (OMG, my refrigerator is still running!)–they were not art.
Prank art, or fictive art, is a serious enough business that it earned artist and teacher Beauvais Lyons a couple of fancy professorships at the University of Tennessee, where he directs the Hokes Archives, a compilation of rare cultural artifacts that seem like they really, really, REALLY could be real but are in fact, more fake than re-shot segments of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
In the clip below, Lyons talks about how elaborately crafted hoaxes such as “The Centaur Excavation at Volos” can challenge viewers to think critically about consumer and media culture.
“I am interested in that edge between fiction and fact,” says Lyons. “There’s so many ways in which we experience that from the media and television and the internet. Can I believe that? Is it real?”
Obviously, the Georgia Dog-Fish below does not exist in reality–wouldn’t it be cool if it did?
The American Badger Swallow isn’t real either, but it is another example of how Lyons borrows techniques from science to lend authoritative authenticity to his hoaxes.
The best way to experience Lyons’ large scale pranks is to come by the Loudoun House and see them up close and personal.
Heck, meet the man himself this Friday at 5:30 p.m. before getting your Soul Funkin’ Dangerous groove on and your West 6th brew on at the Story Soiree!
There’s still time to check out his artistic pranks after the weekend, though. His Association for Creative Zoology exhibit is on display in the gallery until May 12. It even includes a Bible marked with passages supporting the existence of these fantastical creatures!