Creepy reason for hole in road
FOR three days in June, motorists travelling on Hobart's Macquarie Street will drive right over the top of a man who's been buried alive.
Underneath the bitumen covering the middle lane of the main thoroughfare, inside a large steel box, Mike Parr will be waiting.
For 72 hours, he'll survive inside the 1.7m x 2.2m space with a folding chair, waste buckets, some water and a sketchpad and pencils, but there will be no food, and there will be no contact.
The performance artist known for his controversial stunts will enter the chamber at 9pm on Thursday, June 14. Traffic will be stopped briefly so that bitumen can be poured over the top of him. He won't come out until 9pm on Saturday, June 17.
You might think there's no point to an exhibition where the artist and the artwork can't be seen. But that's exactly the point.
"The public will be able to witness the artist's 'disappearance' under the road, but following the entombment, the road will be returned to familiar use," a spokesman for Tasmania's Dark Mofo festival said.
"The anxiety of the artist's disappearance is the point of the piece."
Parr, 73, is no stranger to audacious artworks. He once hacked at his own arm with an axe in front of a horrified audience.
They weren't to know the arm was prosthetic and he had filled it with minced meat and fake blood. Another time he sewed his lips together.
But this one will challenge him. In an interview with The Australian, he admitted to being cautious and to increasing his meditation and eating less.
"I am starting to pull back from society. I'll become isolated and try to visualise what it's going to be like, to find areas of anxiety where I might panic," he said.
"I feel very apprehensive. But, then, if I didn't feel apprehensive what would be the point of it? That is the difference between theatre and performance art: you rehearse theatre.
"Everything is knowable and then you add style. Performance art is the very opposite of that. The good pieces condense that feeling of anxiety and uncertainty. That's when you know you're on to a good thing."
The performance almost didn't happen. Hobart Mayor Ron Christie told ABC Radio Hobart he supports the annual winter festival but was concerned about the impact on traffic.
"They could've found somewhere else," he said.
"My concern is there are around 29 buses going out of the city at that time of the night and I just do not believe it will not affect traffic, diverting it around the city."
Dark Mofo Creative Director Leigh Carmichael said Parr's performance hit home when he "sent through the artist statement". That's when he realised it had a cultural significance, too.
"(It acknowledges two deeply linked events in Tasmania's history. The eventual transportation of 75,000 British and Irish convicts in the first half of the 19th century, and the subsequent, nearly total destruction of Tasmania's Aboriginal population.
"To my knowledge, it will be Tasmania's first monument referencing both the Black War and The Convict System, because the abysmal treatment of the indigenous people and the extreme violence of the punishment meted out to the convicts are two sides of the same coin.
"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.
"In my mind at least, this has already made the most poignant and profound statement imaginable."
When Parr eventually exits from the chamber, concrete will be poured over it to fuse its contents as a time capsule for future generations, according to the project's directors.
It'll be the last time Parr performs for Tasmania's annual event, run in conjunction with the Museum of Old and New Art.
For more information, visit darkmofo.net.au.