Australian Performance Artist to Be Buried Alive to Explore Imprisonment

Lucas Davidson will be buried under 120kg of gravel. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer via the Sydney Morning Herald

A terrifying performance has been making headlines in Australia. Artist Lucas Davidson plans to have himself buried alive for his work Black Cell, which is part of a group show entitled “Doing Time.

Organized by the Sydney Law School and the Sydney Institute of Criminology, the endurance work will explore the consequences that imprisonment has on the psychological state of individuals.

Davidson will be inhumed for 60 minutes in an open-top wood box covered by 120 kilograms of gravel. Although he readily admits that he may not last the entire hour. “The first time I tried it, I lasted only three minutes,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Only the artist's nose and feet are exposed in the performance. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer via the Sydney Morning

Only the artist’s nose and feet are exposed in the performance.
Photo: Dominic Lorrimer via The Sydney Morning

The performance is inspired by the imprisonment of Australian armed robber Brett Collins, who spent 60 days locked up in a windowless “black cell” in the 1970s.

Davidson hopes the performance will raise awareness over the psychological issues associated with solitary confinement.

“I did some research into solitary confinement and Brett’s story is one that stood out for me,” Davidson explained.

The performance explores the themes of imprisonment and incarceration. Photo: The Verge Gallery

The performance explores the themes of imprisonment and incarceration.
Photo: The Verge Gallery

“I thought about my body and about depriving it of the freedoms we have. I started looking at the raw materials used in cells and that’s where I came across the blue metal aggregate used in concrete. That’s the stone I’m applying to myself.”

The group exhibition also includes works by Debra Dawes, Anne Ferran, Sylvia Griffin, and Carolyn McKay, all of them exploring the theme of imprisonment.

“Doing Time” will be on view at Verge Gallery, Sydney, from July 16-August 8, 2015.


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