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The Intimate Resistance: 1971-2023 Mike Parr

28 September 2023-17:00/31 January 2024-19:00

The Intimate Resistance: 1971-2023 Mike Parr

The Intimate Resistance: 1971-2023 Mike Parr

Curated by: Eugenio Viola

28 September 2023

Casa Morra.Archivi d’Arte Contemporanea
Salita San Raffaele 20/C

On Thursday 28 September, at 5 pm, Casa Morra will inaugurate Mike Parr. The Intimate Resistance: 1971-2023, a retrospective curated by Eugenio Viola and organised in collaboration with MAMBO – Museo de Arte Moderno di Bogotà (Colombia) presenting, for the first time in Italy, the work of Australian artist Mike Parr.

On the opening day, the artist will present a long-durational performance specially conceived for this exhibition, Painting Towards a Hole (2023), from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The title of the exhibition, The Intimate Resistance, is borrowed from the book of the same name by the Catalan philosopher Josep Maria Esquirol (La resistencia intima, 2015), a profound reflection on the human condition that becomes the hypertext for offering an open panorama of Mike Parr’s subversive and radical work.

Mike Parr (Sydney, 1945, where he lives and works) is internationally recognised as one of the founding fathers of performance art. Over the course of a career spanning more than 50 years, the Australian artist has challenged the limits of this medium within the parameters of art history and theory, confronting the concepts of space, time, resistance, memory, and the mechanics of representation.

Mike Parr is among the pioneers who shaped performance art in Europe and the Americas in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Moreover, he is among the very few artists who still use performance as their preferred means of expression.

Parr has always used his body as subject, object and medium to explore the physical and mental limits of his own being. His work is often connected to pain, involves bodily fluids, requires acts of extreme resistance and appears disturbing and visceral. For this reason, his performances provoke complex reactions that emotionally and intellectually challenge the artist himself and, in many cases, the spectators.

The Intimate Resistance includes photos, films, videos, single and multi-channel video installations, engravings, and rare archival materials. Parr’s research is represented through over 80 oeuvres produced in five decades: including the early “task performances”, like Pushing a Movie Camera Over a Hill (1971), or Hold Your Breath for as Long as Possible/ Hold Your Finger in a Candle Flame for as Long as Possible (1972). Some of his most controversial pieces are included, like Cathartic Action: Social Gestus No.5 (The “Armchop”) (1977). Also, some works are presented for the first time, like Falling Self-Portrait (2023).

Montage in Space & Time (1971-2023) offers an extraordinary overview of Parr’s radical work, condensed into a synchronised four-channel video installation. A combination of videos, almost a retrospective within a retrospective, which seamlessly re-proposes his most daring and challenging actions, presented in a deliberately episodic and disjointed manner.

Photo-Death (2023), on the other hand, is a work that synthesises the artist’s entire career in a chronological sequence of images, confronting the viewer with the photographic documentation of some of Parr’s most shocking performances. Both Montage in Space & Time and Photo-Death represent the artist’s attempt to determine new ways of representing performance, safeguarding its memory for the future.

Painting Towards a Hole and a Head (2023) is a new ‘site-responsive’ performance that Parr conceived for this exhibition, linked to a series of Blind Paintings that the artist has made over the years, strictly with his eyes closed and refusing even to see the audiovisual documentation of the result.

The Intimate Resistance offers the possibility of appreciating, from a unified perspective, all the coherence of Mike Parr, one of the most extreme, irreverent, ironic, radical, blasphemous, unrepentant and iconoclastic living artists who has experimented with and challenged performance art, shaping its fields and territories and even determining its outcomes.

This exhibition also celebrates the donation of Mike Parr’s entire archive to Casa Morra, which confirms its commitment to preserving, exhibiting and promoting the archives of fundamental figures in the history of contemporary art, such as Julian Beck, Luca Maria Patella, the Living Theatre and Vettor Pisani.

Many thanks to Penny Clive and Anna Schwartz.

Project financed by Regional Law no. 7/2003, grants for cultural promotion year 2023.

Mike Parr co-founded in 1970 with Peter Kennedy, Inhibodress Gallery, the first artist run space in Australia that is credited with spreading conceptual and performance art across the continent. He has had numerous exhibitions in Australia and internationally over more than half a century. The latest include The Eternal Opening, Schwartz/Carriageworks, Sydney, 2019; Underneath the Bitumen the Artist, DarkMofo/Detached, Hobart, 2018; The Ghost Who Talks, 55th Venice Biennale, Palazzo Mora, Venice, 2013. He represented Australia at the 39th. Venice Art Biennale, in 1980. Major retrospectives include Edelweiss, Kunsthallewien, Vienna, 2012; Foreign Looking, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. 2015; The Intimate Resistance, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá – MAMBO, 2023.

Eugenio Viola is since 2019 Chief Curator of MAMBO – Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, in Colombia. From 2017 to 2019 he was Senior Curator at PICA – The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in Perth, Western Australia. From 2009 to 2016 he was Curator at the MADRE Museum in Naples. He has collaborated with numerous Italian and international institutions. He curated in 2015 the Estonian Pavilion at the 55. Venice Biennale and in 2022 the Italian Pavilion at the 59. Venice Biennale. A scholar of experiences related to performance and the body, he edited monographs dedicated to Teresa Margolles (Edizioni MAMBO, Bogotà, 2019); Regina Jose Galindo (Skira, Milan, 2014); Hermann Nitsch (Edizioni Morra, Naples, 2013); Marina Abramović, (Sole 24 Ore Cultura, Milan, 2012); ORLAN (Charta, Milan-New York, 2007).

A new monograph dedicated to the artist’s work, The Intimate Resistance, produced by the Fondazione Morra in collaboration with the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá – MAMBO, in an Italian/English edition (Edizioni Morra) and in an English/Spanish edition (Edizioni MAMBO), edited by Eugenio Viola, will soon be published.


28 September 2023-17:00
31 January-19:00
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Casa Morra
Salita San Raffaele 20C
Napoli, 80136
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Fondazione Morra