In our minds. It was the plate for the exile print + piece of writing. “Etched in our minds” was the first note i ever wrote down on printmaking. And i never knew printmakers destroyed their plates after they had finished. The image of Mike Parr setting fire to his copper plates (‘Burning Down the House’ 2016) was one of the first images i found once i had been schooled on that fact. He just doused everything (prints included) with petrol and lit it all up.
The process is often far more captivating than the final piece. i would love to see a close up image of him – or just his hand – pouring the petrol or holding the match. Ask him why the flames. Why does it all have to go. It was also not until i started typing this that i discovered that his piece of work was a statement on our treatment of the earth and of people who are displaced, in trouble and have nowhere to go. There was this wild idea in a long form interview with Nigerian philosopher Bayo Akomolafe a while back on “learning to escape”. On being the “ones who walk away”. Even run. That was one of the places where the exile thing came from.
Maybe the work is “not to escape but to exile”.
i also once read an article that pondered if Mike Parr was Australia’s greatest artist. The featured image was of him painting twisted up black squares on a white gallery wall. He did that for seventy two hours. Parr is the statement. Parr himself is the exile. He said of his piece, ‘Burning Down the House’ that, “once you compromise the future, the past becomes unbearable“. i loved the line. Thought it was beautiful. But couldn’t stop thinking of the future as a prediction and the past as a memory and in that context, neither are real.
i kept wondering if the present moment meant more to us all there would be nothing to compromise and nothing to bear.
And what do we escape from – where do we exile – to find that moment.
Me. Just thinking out loud.
On Being Here Now
Parr could never re-create or re-do his ‘Burning Down the House’ piece. Perhaps that how he found that moment. His own line and thinking pushed him into a no-man’s land. A ghost suspended somewhere between the past and the future. Until he lit it all up. No forward no back anymore. Mad thinker.
Parr, 2016; Akomolafe in Scolaro, 2020; Fairley, 2019; Dass; 1978.
Byron School Of Art.
This plate looks way cooler than the actual print.