The Significance of Site and Place on the Work of Mike Parr
This paper will discuss the significance of site, place and history on installation and performance art, using the work of Australian artist Mike Parr as an example. I argue that the power of Parr’s art comes from the paradoxical relationship between convention and intervention. He draws on conventional systems of gallery display, such as labeling, plinths, framed photographs and projection screens, as well as the re-presentation of past works. Nevertheless, his interventions into the site and ‘rehabilitation’ of place promote an expanded notion of the museum. I will focus in particular on two recent exhibitions: Parr’s site-specific work in an abandoned building on Cockatoo Island at the 2008 Sydney Biennale, and his survey show in the Bond Store at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, Australia. Both exhibitions included a number of the same works, and yet the reading of these artworks - some of which date back to 1973 - is substantially changed and influenced by the site. The paper will firstly outline the significance of these two sites in terms of their colonial and social history, their physical state and the way in which the two locations differ from the traditional museum. I will then discuss the impact of site and place on the re-presentation of Parr’s videoed performances. Mike Parr is one of Australia’s leading living artists. He works in the areas of drawing, sculpture, new media and most notoriously, performance. His confronting and often controversial work has been shown widely both in Australia and overseas, including the 1980 Venice Biennale.
Keywords: Site-Specific, Place, Site, Installation Art, Performance Art, Australia, Museum Intervention, Mike Parr
PhD Candidate, Art & Design Theory Department, University of Tasmania