02 March, 2006

mike parr prints - MCA

Volte Face
Mike Parr Prints & Pre-Prints 1970 - 2005
2 March - 21 May 2006

Mike Parr’s solo exhibition forms part of a wider season of exhibitions at the MCA exploring self-portraiture by selected Australian and international artists. This exhibition focuses on Parr’s works on paper from the 1990s to the present, as well as early contextual pieces of the 1970s. It includes a selection of key print works drawn from the artist’s studio as well as institutional and private loans, the MCA collection work Black Box of word situations, variation #3, and the artist’s Black Box of 100 Self Portrait Etchings, comprising 100 boxed portrait prints with individually hand-treated surfaces. Also featured is the artist’s performative video 100 Breaths, featuring Parr ‘inhaling’ the individual prints, one by one, to his face in the form of temporary masks.

This exhibition explores the artist’s ongoing self portrait project, sustained through the print medium for two decades, and proposes that self portraiture is an ambivalent, inherently unstable project, like identity itself. It depicts the self through distortional processes including anamorphism, mirroring and reversal, and literal physical disjuncture between body and head/mind. In these works repetition and reinvention are central, and a range of mark-making techniques are employed.

Mike Parr is well known for his work across diverse media including performance, photography, sculpture, video, drawing and printmaking. Active as an artist in Australia since the late 1960s, with an extensive exhibitions history both locally and internationally, he has examined a range of philosophical and political concerns that embrace both the self and the wider world over time.

on drawing at cofa

Image: Mirror/Arse Mike Parr 1983

'100 breaths'
I started drawing in 1981 because around that time I stopped doing the body art performances that I'd done throughout the 1970's. There was something deathly about all the photographic residues. I began by gridding up the photographs and meticulously trying to turn all the photographic tone into line. I also re-drew drawings by mathematically extending the axii of the grid so that drawings became vertically elongated or squashed. This was the beginning of the Self Portrait Project which was my way of analyzing mechanical distortion as psychological content. It was also my way of learning to draw. The presentation will include a videotape of the performance "100 Breaths" in which I hold etchings of self portraits to my face by inhaling my breath. As the performance proceeds I hyperventilate so that my portrait emerges as a strange expression between the prints. All my work seems to entail a tension between representation and physical processes close to performance art

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