Mike Parr

Mike Parr

1945 (age 7071)

Education National Art School, Australia
Known for Performance

Mike Parr (born 1945) is an Australian performance artist and printmaker. Parr's works have been exhibited in Australia and internationally, including in Brazil, Cuba, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States.

Early life

Parr spent his childhood in rural Queensland. He was born with a misshapen arm, and this physical characteristic has featured within his art work. Parr commenced an arts/law degree at the University of Queensland in 1965 but discontinued his studies the following year.

He is the brother of installation/photography artist, Julie Rrap (formerly Julie Brown-Rrap).

Parr moved to Sydney and, in 1968, briefly enrolled at the National Art School to study painting. In 1970, with Peter Kennedy, he established "Inhibodress", an artists' cooperative and alternative space for conceptual art, performance art and video.


Parr's performances explore physical limits, memory and subjectivity. They often depict self-mutilation or extreme physical feats (as in the case of 100 Breaths[1]). The performances are documented photographically and on video.

Parr's print making is a striking contrast, both emotionally and visually to his video/installation work, consisting of beautiful etchings featuring a barrage of raw and spiky lines. Parr has been fascinated with observation and the possibilities and responses of memory distortions. His "landscape" prints are such depictions – memories of views passed by.

Of his reasons, he states "I started drawing in 1981 because around that time I stopped doing the body art performances that I'd done throughout the 1970s."[1] though later he returned to physical performance.


Parr's early works were designed to get a reaction from the audience. In one of Parr's earlier works, he sits in front of his audience and begins talking to them. Most of the people in the audience have no idea that he has one prosthetic arm. Suddenly he gets out an axe and begins hacking into his prosthetic arm which he has filled with minced meat and fake blood.

In 2002, Parr's most challenging performance, "For Water from the Mouth" was held at the gallery Artspace – a work of ten whole days where Parr was isolated in a room, with no human contact, without anything but water to keep him alive. His every action surveyed by video cameras and web cams, broadcast live on the internet for 24 hours a day.

"A stitch in time" was another of his performances, a live web cam showing Parr having his lips and face extensively stitched with thread into a caricature of shame.

In 2003, one of Parr's extended performances was as live web broadcast received more than 250,000 hits in the first 24 hours alone. For 30 hours Parr sat in a gallery (again at Artspace) with his only arm nailed to the wall. This was called "Malevich (A Political Arm)".


Selected Solo Exhibitions

Cloacal Corridor (O Vio Prote/O Vio Proto/O Vio Loto/O Thethe) Self Portrait as a Pair or Self Portrait as a Pun, drawing installation; Identification Number 1 (Rib Markings in the Carnarvon Ranges, North-West Queensland), January 1975, photoseries Screenings of Rules and Displacement Activities Parts I, II and III; Performance presentation from George Brecht's WaterYam, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. Curator: Barbara Campbell Drawings, Art Projects, Melbourne

3 Installations, City Gallery, Melbourne; Mike Parr, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney Survey of Recent Work, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Perth

Black Mirror/Pale Fire, Various Routes, Whistle/White, 3 performances, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Echolalia (the road): Prints from the Self Portrait Project: Mike Parr 1987–1994, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 100 Breaths/100 Songs from (ALPHABET/ HAEMORRHAGE) Black Box of 100 Self Portrait Etchings 5, 1993–1994, performance, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Fathers 11 (The Law of the Image), installation, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide The Bridge, performance, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Day Break, performance, Scene Shop at the Cultural Centre of Manila, Manila

Head on a Plate, New York Studio School, New York The White Hybrid (Fading), performance, Artspace, Cowper Wharf/Artspace, Sydney Unword, performance, University of Western Australia

Female Factory, 7 hour performance, 25.4 Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne Blood Box, 24-hour performance, 6.9/7.9, Artspace, Sydney Boubialla Couta, (performance), College of Fine Arts, Sydney The Rest of Time, Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney Mike Parr, Sherman Galleries Hargrave, Sydney Photo-Realism, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Wrong Face, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne Three Collaborations, Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney

Shallow Grave, 3-day performance, 7.7–9.7 12th Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

John Kaldor Art Project 2: Szeemann: I want to leave a nice welldone child here (20 Australian Artists), Bonython Gallery, Sydney; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Recent Australian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Tall Poppies, an exhibition of five pictures, University Art Gallery, University of Melbourne D'un autre continent 'L'Australie, Le réve et le réel', ARC/Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Australian Perspecta 85,Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Origins, Originality & Beyond, The Sixth Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales; Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay, Sydney

Edge to Edge: Australian Contemporary Art to Japan, National Museum of Art, Osaka; Old and New Hara Museums, Tokyo; Nagoya City Museum, Nagoya; Hokkaido Museum, Sapporo

Spirit & Place: Art in Australia 1861–1996, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Body, Art Gallery of New South Wales In Place (Out of Time): Contemporary Art in Australia, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

Southern Reflections: An Exhibition of Contemporary Australian Art to Northern Europe, Kulturhaus, Stockholm, Sweden; Konathallen Götsberg, Gothenburg, Sweden; Arhus Konstmuseum, Arhus, Denmark; Museum Tamminiementle (City Art Museum), Helsinki; Neues Museum, Bremen, Germany; Staatliche Sammlung für Kunst, Chemnitz, East Germany Telling Tales, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Five Continents and One City. Curator: Gao Minglu, Mexico City Gallery, Mexico The Liverpool Biennale, Liverpool, UK Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, Queens Museum, The Walker Art Centre, Miami Art Centre and other American Museums, 1999/00



National Gallery of Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, all state and many regional galleries, tertiary collections, the National Library in Canberra, Parliament House, Canberra, Chartwell Collection in New Zealand, Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, First National Bank in Chicago, The Michael Buxton Contemporary Australian Art Collection


  1. 1 2 Unregistered OCEE installation!!!Mike Parr | College of Fine Arts
  2. Print Matters 30 Years of the Shell Fremantle Print Award"' Holly Story ..et al 2005 FAC ISBN 0-9757307-1-1
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