Shaun Gladwell: 2022 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Free/State
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Parr is famous for pushing art, and human endurance, to its limits. The Australian artist’s intense performances have included sewing up his face, nailing his arm to the wall and being splattered with his own blood.Shortly after he entered the specially-built chamber (it measures in at 4.5m x 1.7m x 2.2m) on Thursday night, the bitumen was resealed above him and the busy thoroughfare outside Hobart’s Town Hall re-opened to traffic.
The work, entitled Underneath the Bitumen the Artist, is Parr’s third and final for the Museum of Old and New Art’s annual winter festival Dark Mofo.It has been described as a tribute to victims of 20th-century totalitarianism, and a monument to the Aboriginal victims of British colonial violence.
“Mike wants to talk about totalitarian violence throughout the world, not just in Australia, and so it is a global issue for him. But Mike is very careful to make sure everyone understands that this is not a representation of anything. This is actually about what what you want to bring to it.”While some Tasmanian Aboriginals have said they were “insulted” by the work and the fact they were not consulted beforehand, others came to show their support for Parr.
This is actually about what what you want to bring to it.
“That’s the point we have been trying to make for the last 200 years and it takes things like this to make people sit up and listen.”Parr will be unearthed on Sunday, 9pm and his steel chamber and its contents will be back-filled, preserved under the road for future generations.