This is the third and final work by Mike Parr to be included in the Museum of Old and New Art’s winter festival, Dark Mofo.In 2016, the festival commissioned Parr’s work Asylum [Entry by Mirror Only] at the historic Willow Court Asylum in New Norfolk. The work was comprised of a 72-hour in-situ performance followed by a two-week exhibition of Parr’s photographic and film works, reflected in a kaleidoscope of mirrors left on the site by more than 10,000 visitors.
In 2017, Dark Mofo travelled to Bruny Island at 2am for Empty Ocean, a performance in which Parr was joined by 72 people aged around 70 years, for a one-hour performance piece in the near-darkness of the frozen morning. An experience of stark, minimal beauty ensued, as a meditation on time, ageing, and isolation, with attendees returning to the main island of Tasmania just before dawn.
This year, equipped with a sketchpad and pencils, meditation stool, bedding, water, and other items necessary for survival, Parr goes underground, beneath the bitumen of Macquarie Street, Hobart for 72 continuous hours inside a container measuring 450 x 170 x 220cm.
Presented by Dark Mofo and Detached Cultural Organisation, UNDERNEATH THE BITUMEN THE ARTIST is a commentary on Tasmania’s dark history, specifically the ‘transportation of 75,000 British & Irish convicts in the first half of the nineteenth century and the subsequent, near total destruction of Tasmania’s aboriginal population,’ says Dark Mofo Creative Director Leigh Carmichael.
‘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,’ continues Carmichael. 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.’
Curated by Jarrod Rawlins, UNDERNEATH THE BITUMEN THE ARTIST will take place 9pm, Thursday 14 June to 9pm, Sunday 17 June 2018. The road surface will be sealed as if not interrupted and traffic will resume as normal, once the artist is interred.