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Artist entombed under Hobart street

For three days Mike Parr will meditate, draw and read while buried underneath a busy main road in Hobart’s city centre.

Hundreds gathered at Macquarie Street on Thursday night to watch the 73-year-old performance artist enter a steel container and have the road sealed above him as part of Tasmania’s annual Dark Mofo festival.

Oxygen will be pumped into the container to keep Parr alive but he doesn’t have any food, only water.

Dark Mofo curator Jarrod Rawlins said Parr had fasted for days in preparation and was “very calm”.

The performance Underneath the Bitumen the Artist is billed as memorialising the victims of twentieth-century totalitarian violence.

But it is open to interpretation.

“There are many points to this piece. You can bring to it what you will,” Mr Rawlins said.

Parr will read Robert Hughes’s The Fatal Shore and has a necessary camping toilet.

He’s no stranger to confronting artworks, having once hacked his prosthetic arm with an axe in front of a shocked audience.

Signs will be put up to let people know Parr is underneath the thoroughfare.

If things go awry, it’s understood Parr has a panic button and can be dug out in a “matter of minutes”.

All things going well, he’ll resurface on Sunday night after 72 hours underground. After that?

“He’s going to go home and rest,” Mr Rawlins said.

Dark Mofo, produced by the Museum of Old and New Art, is no stranger to odd performances, having last year copped criticism from animal rights groups over a bloody sacrificial ritual that included a bull carcass.

Inverted crosses on the city’s waterfront have this year drawn the ire of some Christians.

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