Artist Spends 3 Days Buried Under Tasmania’s Busiest Road

Steel box in which artist Mike Parr was buried under Tasmania's busiest road 9 photos
Photo: YouTube
Street artist draws on dirty carsStreet artist draws on dirty carsStreet artist draws on dirty carsStreet artist draws on dirty carsStreet artist draws on dirty carsStreet artist draws on dirty carsStreet artist draws on dirty carsStreet artist draws on dirty cars
Age is nothing but a number for Australian performance artist Mike Parr, who spent the last 3 days buried inside a steel box, under one of Tasmania’s busiest roads.
The performance art number, Under the Bitumen the Artist, was part of the Dark Mofo winter festival, and it was Parr’s third and final number for this festival. Meant as a “response to 20th-century totalitarian violence in all its forms,” it drew a huge crowd and caused commotion on social media, as you can imagine.

To pull off such a feat, Parr and his team needed to dig a large hole under Macquarie Street and insert a large steel box inside. The box itself was difficult to acquire, since the first contractor they hired backed out of the job when he found out what it would be used for.

For company, Parr had a copy of Robert Hughes's “The Fatal Shore,” drawing materials, a bed and a stool, a mirror and a screen that played images from outside, of the ongoing traffic. He also had spare winter clothes and a heater, water and Kombucha, but no food. His health was monitored and teams on the ground had eyes on him around the clock.

Parr spent most of the time meditating and, he tells, looking at the screen and analyzing traffic. It was incredibly noisy down there, he admits, what with all the cars rushing over the box he was in.

“The greyness, people huddled up in their winter gear, the greyness wandering up the street pausing, looking at nothing fixedly,” Parr describes what he saw on a Sunday rainy morning.

“The sort of random psychopaths leached from the Tasmanian condition, I thought this was extraordinary,” he adds. “In a hundred years this will be a revelation; we'll think 'this is how they lived in the second half of the 21st century. Look at their bewilderment, their alienation. The featurelessness, the purposeless of their existence wandering on a Sunday morning staring fixedly at the road. It was amazing.”

After 3 days, Parr emerged from his grave, to cheers from the crowd. Workers poured cement into the steel box and placed the asphalt lid back on it.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Elena Gorgan
Elena Gorgan profile photo

Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories