Mike Parr: Performance Artist

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There are no limits to what art can be. In particular, performance art is no longer contrived in the traditional format; it can be portrayed in any form of medium, it could have personal meaning only to the artist or it could represent social and political issues. Performance art can be described as a form of theatrical art featuring the activity of the artist and the works represented in a variety of media.

Mike Parr is a renowned Australian performance artist; born in Sydney, 1945, Parr spent his childhood in rural Queensland He commenced a law/arts degree at the University of Queensland in 1965 but dropped out the following year. Parr's work is autobiographical because he places himself in the surroundings that reflect his personal history through ideas and images. Throughout his works, he is continually challenging the ideals of what ‘real' art is. In an interview with Carrie Lumby from Sherman Galleries, Parr defined his performances as a genre; "I think performance art serves to separate itself out form experimental theatre, video art etc, via notions of the real… [performance art] represents the ‘represtentational' as a perpetual; cross for the real." This insight is significant, as it shows how Parr perceives modern day performance art and what his views on it are.

Parr sees his works as having strong historical connections with the Dada movement, Cubist and Surrealist artworks. He seeks to explore the withdrawn self, to draw from his own physical and emotional pain. His works are highly confronting challenging or shocking to the audience who views them. Performance art to Parr is Cathartic; he deals with his own physical and mental problems through his art for self-healing, making each artwork highly valued and personal to him. Images embedded in his works not only give a strong personal insight but also challenge the conventions of society, with a wider social and political relevance.

Performance art is ‘ephemeral'; once performed, it...
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