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Australian art

Contemporary art


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We are all monochromes now



Mike Parr


1945 -

Paul Green


'We are all monochromes now' is a conceptual work that abstracts from my thirty-year-long, self-project portrait.

The photographs of the 27 coats comprising the exhibition exhaust the contents of my wardrobe. I have 27 coats but only a dozen pairs of trousers.

It occurs to me that my attempts to 'fit-in' have made me the Imedla Macros of coats!

They were photographed by Paul Green at my instruction and printed in the mural darkroom at COFA by Felizitas Parr and Dobrila Stamenkovic.

Every effort has been taken to make the photographs as blandly life-like as possible. In each instance the left sleeve is tucked in the pocket reducing the intensities of the self-portrait project to a sign. The fact and less tangible sings of wear reveal the coats as absent self-portraits.

The sense of absence or the evacuation or loss of presence is the prevailing point of the show. Anonymity, conformism, powerlessness, loss. 'WE ARE ALL MONOCHROMES NOW' implies that the absence of politics is itself a political position, because unopposed power quickly becomes viscously mundane.

The first page of Roland Barthes' seminal book on photography, Camera Lucida, has been used as the device to hang the show. Deleting the sense of his words, I have used the rhythm of his punctuation as a set of ratios to locate the photographs as a series that occupies the whole gallery space. This ratio ensures that the photographs can occupy any space in the same pointlessly complete way. It occurred to me that 19 million Australians occupy 3 million miles of this continent in much the same dog-in-the-manger way. I think that occupancy on this basis is the essence of white Australia.

Mike Parr, 28 August 2013




Media category


Materials used



1/1 + AP


27 black and white photographs: 98.7 x 73.8 x 2.0 cm frame; 11 text panels: 88.4 x 61.8 x 2.0 cm frame :

a - jacket 1

b - jacket 2

c - jacket 3

d - jacket 4

e - jacket 5

f - jacket 6

g - jacket 7

h - jacket 8

i - jacket 9

j - jacket 10

k - jacket 11

l - jacket 12

m - jacket 13

n - jacket 14

o - jacket 15

p - jacket 16

q - jacket 17

r - jacket 18

s - jacket 19

t - jacket 20

u - jacket 21

v - jacket 22

w - jacket 23

x - jacket 24

y - jacket 25

z - jacket 26

aa - jacket 27

bb - text panel 1

cc - text panel 2

dd - text panel 3

ee - text panel 4

ff - text panel 5

gg - text panel 6

hh - text panel 7

ii - text panel 8

jj - text panel 9

kk - text panel 10

ll - text panel 11

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of Anna and Morry Schwartz AM 2019. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Mike Parr

Works in the collection


Artist information

Paul Green

Works in the collection