Performance artist Mike Parr enters the hole in Macquarie Street where he will be buried for 72 hours. (ABC News: Carla Howarth)
An artist has been buried alive beneath a busy Hobart road, where he will spend 72 hours as part of Tasmania’s Dark Mofo winter festival.
A crowd of onlookers watched as Mike Parr, 73, was lowered into a steel container beneath Macquarie Street and the road was resealed above him.
Oxygen will be pumped into the container where Mr Parr will spend the next three days fasting, meditating, reading and drawing in his sketchbook.
Before he entered the box, Dark Mofo curator Jarrod Rawlins said Parr was very calm and had been fasting in preparation.
During the three days he will consume a limited amount of liquids.
“He is an endurance performance artist and he’s been doing this for many years, so his body is quite used to doing this,” Mr Rawlins said.
“He will take a copy of Robert Hughes’s The Fatal Shore down with him to read, and he’ll have his sketchbook, but what he does down there aside from that, nobody knows.”
And what will he use for a toilet? “There’s a bucket down there,” Mr Rawlins said.
Mr Rawlins said Parr would be monitored on security cameras and if anything goes wrong he can be removed from the container in “only a matter of minutes”.
“This work is funded by MONA which is owned by David Walsh, and the artist is liable for his own actions and we are liable for ours,” Mr Rawlins said.
This is his third work for the Hobart winter festival.
The performance titled Underneath the Bitumen the Artist is billed as a work “conceived to memorialise the victims of twentieth century totalitarian violence in all of its ideological forms, including the shadow cast by the genocidal violence of 19th century British colonialism in Australia”.
“This may be for some people a representation for them personally of some kind of localised violence, but it also might be for somebody else a man going into a box under the road,” Mr Rawlins said.
“It’s important for Mike that people are free to bring what they wish to bring to the work but it’s understood that Mike himself is not making any specific representations on behalf of him or another group.”
Parr will emerge from the container at 9:00pm on Sunday, and concrete will be poured to fuse the chamber and its contents as a time capsule.
The artist was unable to gain approval to conduct the performance in two other cities.
‘For heaven’s sake’
Hobart Lord Mayor Ron Christie said all of the council alderman approved Dark Mofo’s application, except for one.
“I voted against it, not for art’s sake, but for heaven’s sake,” he said.
“For heavens sake, during peak hour on this arterial road of ours, we have something like 2,000 to 3,000 vehicles going through.
“We have enough traffic problems in Hobart now without any more occurring, so that’s one of the reasons I voted against it.”
Alderman Christie said council was not funding any part of the project.
“This is all part of MONA’s content and Mona’s budget. They’re paying for all of that, we just have to give road approvals,” he said.
He said the festival had transformed the city from “Slow-bart” to Hobart.
“They get what they want but we also get what we want, and that is that we bring money into our economy here — and we’re not talking about tens of thousands, we’re talking about millions of dollars and each year it’s gaining worldwide recognition,” he said.
This year’s Dark Mofo has already created a stir with inverted crosses on Hobart’s waterfront offending some Christians.