Performance art is usually weird and quite often involves people doing things that are either extremely uncomfortable or just plain old fucking weird. I remember seeing footage of a few of Marina Abramovic‘s performances at Tasmania‘s Dark Mofo Festival a few years back, which involved her screaming into someone’s mouth until she lost her voice. This is normal, for performance art.
Speaking of Dark Mofo, a man just casually BURIED HIMSELF ALIVE last night in Hobart, underneath the extremely busy Macquarie Street. May I stress again – SOMEONE JUST VOLUNTARILY BURIED THEMSELVES UNDER BITUMEN.
The man is Mike Parr. He’s a 73 year old performance artist participating in Dark Mofo. His work is titled Underneath The Bitumen – The Artist. It basically involves him being buried alive in a steel box for 72 hours.
The box is less of a human-sized-only thing and a bit more like a tiny house. An extremely tiny one.
Said box is 4.5m x 1.7m x 2.2m.
Don’t worry – he’s got a tube feeding him air, and his plan is to spend the 72 hours meditating, reading Robert Hughes‘ The Fatal Shore, fasting and – somehow – drawing, according to the ABC.
According to Dark Mofo, Mike’s work is meant to “memorialise the victims of 20th-century totalitarian violence”, including “the genocidal violence of 19th-century British colonialism in Australia”.
Dark Mofo’s Creative Director Leigh Carmichael told ABC that the work makes a statement about the Black War, and 1826 event in which 900 Aboriginal Tasmanians died after Governor George Arthur declared martial law.
“To my knowledge, it will be Tasmania’s first monument referencing both the Black War and the convict system,” he said.
The performance has copped some flack from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, with CEO Heather Sculthorpe saying the idea was insulting.
“I wouldn’t have known it had anything to do with the Black War. If indeed that is what it is meant to be about then perhaps we should have Aboriginal people involved in it, not just Dark Mofo deciding what will tell our history better than what we can ourselves. It is a bit insulting, really. If they have any interest in telling the Aboriginal story then they should have put it out there for Aboriginal people to do it.”
Although another TAC spokesperson, Michael Mansell, seemed to praise Mike Parr for raising awareness.
“Instead of Tasmania putting its head in the sand it needs to openly talk about the past and how it affects people today. Mr Parr is making his contribution.”