Easter Island

Art Life , Exhibitions Nov 29, 2013 1 Comment

From Sharne Wolff

If there’s a constant theme in Mike Parr’s work it’s surely that of the artist defining himself. Alongside his notoriety as a radical performance artist who’s confronted audiences while testing the limits of his body to endure pain, Parr has made several series of self-portrait drawings, etchings and prints. In his latest exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Easter Island, the artist has removed the immediacy of the portrait one step by exhibiting 99 enlarged photos of his abstracted drawings. Made during “a kind of performance session” all are installed above eye level in the Carriageworks gallery intending to overwhelm the space – and the viewer.

QT_November 29_Easter Island

In extracts from his diary Parr states “Easter Island is the graveyard of the image…” Beyond the obvious reference to the Island’s maoi (giant stone megaliths) this work has an apparent link to American geologist, Jared Diamond’s, 2005 theory of environmental mortality where the Island population ate all their resources. Parr is also perhaps referring to these works as ‘split’ images of self when he speaks of the “disconnectedness” of repetition. His insistent performance in producing numerous portraits contemplates the impossibility of rendering self-identity in an image.

Until December 21
Anna Schwartz Gallery, Eveleigh.
Pic: Mike Parr, Untitled Self Portrait 61, 2013. Inkjet print on Spectrum gloss paper 118.2 x 180 cm, unique state print. Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

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Sharne Wolff

One Comments

  1. roenna

    [Fact check: not so certain Professor Diamond had a “theory of environmental mortality”.]

    This is an interesting departure from Mike Parr’s trademark solipsistic performance art, which demonstrates the importance for him of being in complete control of the surprise, the confusion – the emotional responses – of those he draws to his shows, over and over again. This could be said to be the repetition in his art. He has admitted to enjoying shocking his ‘audience’, and has notoriously on occasion felt compelled to sadomasochistically reenact his personal demons…

    My curiosity is piqued. Perhaps Parr is finally through with the gruesome, self-annihilating aspects of his performance art. At least, when the nasty memories have faded, what will remain, as on Easter Island, are his many wonderful works on paper.

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