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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Artist Mike Parr Will Spend 72 Hours Buried Under a Hobart Road During Dark Mofo

He'll descend into a box measuring just 4.5 metres by 1.7 metres by 2.2 metres for three days, with traffic driving over the top.
By Sarah Ward
May 26, 2018
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Artist Mike Parr Will Spend 72 Hours Buried Under a Hobart Road During Dark Mofo

He'll descend into a box measuring just 4.5 metres by 1.7 metres by 2.2 metres for three days, with traffic driving over the top.
By Sarah Ward
May 26, 2018
  shares

For most of us, being buried alive ranks among our worst nightmares. For Mike Parr, it's his latest performance artwork. Between June 14 and 17, the Australian artist will be interred in a steel container beneath a Hobart street — spending 72 hours underground as part of this year's Dark Mofo.

Appropriately titled Underneath the Bitumen, the piece will see Parr take up temporary residence below the middle lane of Macquarie Street in the Hobart CBD from 9pm Thursday through till 9pm Sunday. He'll descend into a box measuring just 4.5 metres by 1.7 metres by 2.2 metres, accompanied by a sketchpad and pencils, meditation stool, bedding, water and other items he'll need to survive. Once he's down there, the road surface will be sealed as normal and traffic will resume, driving over the top.

The public will be able to view Parr's 'disappearance' under the street as part of his performance, and afterwards, the capsule he'll spend three days in will remain in place. While the road will be completely patched up after he emerges, concrete will be poured over the chamber once he's out, creating a time capsule filled with everything he's left inside.

That stress you're probably feeling on Parr's behalf, well, that's by design. "The anxiety of the artist's disappearance is the point of the piece," states the Dark Mofo websiteUnderneath the Bitumen has been crafted as a response to two events in Tasmania's history: the transportation of 75,000 British and Irish convicts to the state across the first half of the 19th century, and the waning of Tasmania's aboriginal population afterwards.

"To my knowledge, it will be Tasmania's first monument referencing both the Black War and The Convict System," said Dark Mofo Creative Director Leigh Carmichael. "It is a story that is not well known, but is ever-present, just beneath the surface of our contemporary culture. The fact that Mike Parr's work will happen underground, just out of sight, as everyday life continues above it, is clearly no coincidence."

This is the third time Parr has been part of the Dark Mofo program, after a 72-hour performance at the historic Willow Court Asylum in New Norfolk in 2016, with an accompanying two-week exhibition afterwards; and a one-hour piece on Bruny Island  in 2017, where he was joined by 72 people aged around 70 years for a show that kicked off at 2am.

Underneath the Bitumen runs from June 14-17 as part of this year's Dark Mofo in Hobart. For more information about the artwork — and about the festival which runs between June 13 and 24 — visit the Dark Mofo website.

Image: Nick D via Wikicommons.

Published on May 26, 2018 by Sarah Ward

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