Hobart’s location might be deemed the ‘end of the earth’ but its foray into the art world is very much at the forefront of creative-types to-do list worldwide. Credit for this is namely due to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, which has been shaking up the scene with its world-class museum and subsequent arts festivals.
Enter Dark Mofo – MONA’s winter solstice festival, returning for a second year after attracting more than 128,000 people to its inaugural event last year. Dark Mofo gets its namesake as the counter festival to MONA FOMA – the museum’s successful summer soiree.
The air might be colder and the days darker, but Dark Mofo brings Hobart to life with free and ticketed live music, performances, exhibitions and installations all leading up to the season’s longest night (the winter solstice on June 21) and climaxing with the Solstice Swim – a nude sunrise swim at Long Beach, Sandy Bay on June 22 to welcome back the light.
What to expect
Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman says the festival “cuts through the darkness and cold to feed and challenge our senses”. The Premier goes on to say “Winter in Hobart has previously been a time where we have experienced challenges in attracting tourists ... Dark Mofo is not only bringing more people to the State, but also attracting Tasmanians back outdoors to experience Hobart like never before.”
So, who’s making the pilgrimage to play at Dark Mofo? Aside from Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Dark Mofo will be graced by Los Angeles hardcore band The Bronx, along with Aussie folk-rock legends The Gin Club and singer songwriter Jeff Lang. Revellers are treated to a 10-day long festival which includes a midweek party at MONA, when the gallery stays open until midnight with free entry on the Tuesday.
The venues this year extend out from the monolith that is MONA into historic and underutilised spaces around Hobart including MONA’s new festival hub; The Odeon Theatre. Interact with and create art in Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s installation Articulated Intersect, where everyday festival goers are given access to control and move powerful beams of light that will pierce the Hobart sky above Sullivans Cove from dusk until dawn.
Darkness and intrigue is a running theme of the festival. The Dark Mofo Film programs will expose the mysterious heart of Australian cinema while performance artists The Twilight Girls and their nemesis Renny Kodgerswill play homage to classic cinematic horror scenes using B-grade techniques.
With so much challenging and confronting artwork to take in, you’ll surely work up an appetite. The good news is you’re in a great part of the world for feasting on local produce – and feast you shall along the banks of the Derwent River with a three-night Bacchanalian banquet.
Straight from the dark ages, the banquet is set with fire, mead, music and dance to the backdrop of a candle-lit forest under the wintry Tasmanian sky. Top notch chefs and acclaimed food and drink stallholders will gather from all over the isle to ensure your stomach feasts on good food in the same measure as your eyes and ears do on the culture and atmosphere.
Embrace the Dark Mofo
Winter is now something to look forward to in Hobart. “We can’t wait for winter in Tasmania. This year Dark Mofo breaks new ground,” says Dark Mofo Creative Director Leigh Carmichael. So if you’ve been meaning to get down to Tasmania and see what all the fuss is about at MONA, Dark Mofo is the time to do it.
Leigh says “This is a festival of firsts; we are featuring an interactive public artwork on the waterfront, Washing River 2014 by Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen, the Dark Mofo Films program features national and world premieres, and we are hosting the inaugural Future Hobart 2014 public space forum with Vito Acconci.”
Mad about MONA
For those who don’t know, MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) is located in within the Moorilla winery grounds just outside Hobart city. The largest privately funded museum in Australia, it opened its doors in 2011 presenting modern and contemporary art from the museums owner, millionaire and art aficionado David Walsh’s collection.
Controversial and boundary-pushing – love it or loathe it, MONA has helped put Tasmania on the map, contributing to a 14% tourism increase for the state and giving the Apple Isle another reason to be famous, other than being home to Australia’s Cadbury factory. Tickets to Dark Mofo are on sale now .