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Hobart Dark Mofo 'burial' splits opinion

dark mofo 2017

Aboriginal leaders in Tasmania are divided over an artist's plan to bring attention to colonial violence against the state's indigenous people by burying himself under a busy Hobart road.

Mike Parr will live without food in a small container under Macquarie Street in the city's CBD for three days next month as part of the Dark Mofo festival.

The road will be sealed above him and traffic will continue as normal.

Mr Parr will draw and meditate in the container, with air supplied by a fan.

Dark Mofo creative director Leigh Carmichael said the work would make a poignant statement about the Black War.

Governor George Arthur in 1826 declared martial law against Aboriginal Tasmanians to push them out of settled areas.

Up to 900 Aboriginal people and 200 colonists died in related conflict.

"It is a story that is not well known, but is ever-present, just beneath the surface of our contemporary culture," Mr Carmichael said.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) CEO Heather Sculthorpe told AAP she agrees with the artist's intentions but not his method.

"We think it's a weird way to draw attention to these pretty bad aspects of the island's past," she said.

But Michael Mansell, a TAC spokesperson, released a statement on Tuesday saying the Aboriginal people of Tasmania support the work.

"(The) unusual method of making the point might raise eyebrows, but more importantly he might raise Tasmania's awareness of the mass killings of Aboriginals," he wrote.

"Instead of Tasmania putting its head in the sand it needs to openly talk about the past and how it affects people today.

"Mr Parr is making his contribution."

Ms Sculthorpe believes organisers didn't consult with the Aboriginal community.

"Good that it's bringing attention to Tasmania's past," she said.

"The fact it's sidelining the community and not enabling Aboriginal people to tell our own stories are things that we don't agree with.

"There should be more discussion about the facts of our history. About the massacres that occurred. All this is well documented."

Dark Mofo, produced by the Museum of Old and New Art, has a history of controversial performances.

In 2017, the festival copped criticism from animal rights groups over an animalistic sacrificial ritual that included a bloody bull carcass.

© AAP 2018
Image: AAP/Andrew Drummond