Digging deep in the name of art
WORKERS were last night preparing to bury a steel container under Hobart’s busiest street as part of the lead-up to one of Dark Mofo’s most provocative events.
Some lanes of Macquarie St were closed for several hours last night as a hole was dug to hold the accommodation for performance artist Mike Parr’s work, Underneath the Bitumen The Artist.
Mr Parr will be entombed for 72 hours under Macquarie St in mid-June as part of Dark Mofo. Lanes of the road are expected to be closed for several hours at a time during his performance.
The work is intended in part to “memorialise the victims of 20th century totalitarian violence in all of its ideological forms, including the shadow cast by the genocidal violence of 19th century British colonialism in Australia.”
Performance curator Jarrod Rawlins said the early response to the announcement of the work reflected some of the expected anxiety about seeing a 72-year-old man buried under a city street.
“I think people are excited, and curious more than anything at the moment,” he said.
“People would just, I guess, be trying to picture themselves in a box underneath the road and what that means to them.”
Mr Parr will take items including a book, a sketchpad, a stool and mattress into the 4.5m x 1.7m x 2.2m container.
And he will have earplugs to minimise the noise of traffic passing above him.
The box will be connected to the outside world only by a tube feeding fresh air inside, and an emergency button.
He will leave everything behind as he exits the container, which will then be entombed in concrete below the road forever.
Mr Rawlins said the vast majority of the performance would be unseen.
“We don’t know what’s going happen. All we do is make sure things are safe. That’s our main role, is making sure that all of the safety procedures for everyone — the artist and the audience — is safe. The rest, being performance art, just happens,” he said.
In an interview, with the Weekend Australian, Mr Parr said Hobart was the right place for the work — which was knocked back by two other cities.
“Maybe that’s why I love Tasmania so much. I don’t think you’d get away with this anywhere else,” he said.
His previous works have included fasting in a glass cage for ten days, having his lips sewn together and spending 30 hours blindfolded with his right arm nailed to a wall.
The performance will run from June 14 to June 17 and will cost Mona, Dark Mofo, and Detached Cultural Organisation $150,000. None of the expense will be born by taxpayers or Hobart ratepayers.
Hobart Lord Mayor Ron Christie said while he supported Dark Mofo generally, he was concerned about the impact on city traffic
“At that time of night our traffic officers say there will be around 850 vehicles an hour and I’m concerned about the diversions and where the traffic is going,” he said.
So Hobart congestion is some of the worst in Australia, so let’s dig up the centre lane of one of the busiest streets, seal for three days, then do it over again just so this guy can be buried alive for an art piece? Seriously?
Wouldn’t the driveway to Mona be a better choice?
I guess if it’s going to be left in the ground for future generations there are obviously no plans
for improving Macquarie Street any time soon?
This mindless waste of money should be cancelled. Taxpayers’ funds going to waste. Dangerous, we will have people standing in
the middle of the road taking photographs endangering their and other lives.
I thought Mofo was about art, its turning into stupidity.
Performance curator Jarrod Rawlins
Yesterday’s P1 report in the Mercury.