Sealed in a small box underneath a busy Hobart road, Mike Parr frantically paced up and down as semi-trailers rumbled inches above his head.
The 73-year-old Australian performance artist was dug up on Sunday night after spending three days 'buried alive' as part of an audacious piece for Hobart's Dark Mofo winter festival.
Parr spoke on Tuesday for the first time since being unearthed and billed the piece as drawing attention to "hidden" global violence, particularly against Tasmania's Aboriginal population during colonisation.
He said cars became increasingly visible through a crack in the road but at no time did he fear for his safety.
"I could see the light of vehicles. I would see their front end bobbing up and down," Parr told an audience of a few hundred at the Dechaineux Lecture Theatre.
"By about 10pm on Saturday night it was deafening in the box and when the semis went over the top everything was rattling.
"Then of course there was all the ferals in the early hours of the morning. They would run out between the lights and jump up and down.
"But it was better than most art criticism."
Parr read, drew, meditated and watched the above Macquarie Street via a screen.
Hundreds gathered to watch Parr enter the box on Friday night and re-surface on Sunday.
While reading Robert Hughes' The Fatal Shore his vision focused.
"I realised buried under the ground that it must be about the most acute issues concerning Tasmanian people now - the plight of Aboriginal descendants who still fight hard for recognition," he said.
The performance 'Underneath the Bitumen the Artist' was also intended to invoke anxiousness, he added
Parr came up with the idea in 2011 in Italy, originally wanting to make a statement about Nazi atrocities in Germany.
His 'burial' had been rejected in two other cities.
The work invoked a mixed response from Tasmania's Aboriginal community, with some critical over a lack of consultation.
But Parr said asking permission from groups would have restricted peoples' interpretation - adding critics could think of goldfish in a bowl if they wanted.
Some in the crowd were holding Aboriginal flags in a show of support when Parr silently emerged.
"When I left to walk out ... I felt immediately very buoyed," Parr said.
Parr fasted and limited his water intake while entombed in the container that was fed oxygen by a fan.
The container has been filled with concrete and preserved as a time capsule.
He is no stranger to confronting artworks, having once hacked his prosthetic arm with an axe in front of a shocked audience.
Parr walked up and down the 4.5m by 1.7m box at increasing speed for hours and was "determined" to go the full 72 hours underground.
"Every performance I do now is my last performance. But I keep doing them," he quipped to reporters.
Australian Associated Press