After three days sealed inside a steel container underneath a busy Hobart street, performance artist Mike Parr emerged without saying a word.
Hundreds anxiously watched on a drizzly Sunday night as the 73-year-old was dug up from Macquarie Street in the heart of the city.
It took about two hours for road workers to carefully dig through bitumen before machinery lifted the lid on Parr’s temporary underground home.
He emerged to cheers and silently walked into a nearby building.
Parr had spend 72 hours in the small box with water and no food.
Oxygen was pumped into the container to keep him alive.
Parr spent his time meditating, drawing and reading Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore.
The performance ‘Underneath the Bitumen the Artist’ was billed as memorialising the victims of 20th century totalitarian violence.
Some Tasmanian indigenous groups have branded the work insulting but Aboriginal community member Nala Mansell was supportive.
“Aboriginal history in Tasmania has been buried for over 200 years and I think it’s a great way to symbolise the fact that people are still unaware of Aboriginal history in Tasmania,” she told reporters.
Parr’s no stranger to intriguing works, having once hacked his prosthetic arm with an axe in front of a shocked audience.
He failed to get approval for his “burial” performance in two other cities.
Some onlookers were left scratching their heads.
“I don’t take anything away from it all,” Carolyn Bowerman from Townsville told AAP.
“I’m just amazed that someone would put themselves through this and go to this much effort.
“I don’t know what to make of it.”
It isn’t the first time Dark Mofo, produced by the Museum of Old and New Art, has courted controversy.
Inverted crosses on the city’s waterfront have this year drawn the ire of some Christians.
Last year, the festival copped criticism from animal rights groups over a bloody sacrificial ritual that included a bull carcass.
No organisers from Dark Mofo wanted to comment on Parr’s ‘burial’, leaving first word to the artist when he speaks at a public forum on Tuesday.
The container will be filled with concrete and resealed.