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Mona Foma's 2020 Program Is Here with Inflatable Mazes, Giant Puppets and Masked Cowboys

Wander through the latest immersive installation by Architects of Air, see a huge puppet show in a gorge and catch crooner Orville Peck.
By Sarah Ward
October 18, 2019
By Sarah Ward
October 18, 2019

With its ten-day feast of art, music and performances, heading to Launceston's Mona Foma can feel a little like wandering through a labyrinth. The first of MONA's annual arts festivals, the now 12-year-old event guides punters in one direction, then nudges them in another, thoroughly spoiling attendees for choice — which is what you'd expect of a fest that features more than 400 artists across 25 venues.

When it returns in 2020, taking place between Saturday, January 11 and Monday, January 20, Mona Foma is taking that maze-like feeling literally. One of its headliners is the latest project by Nottingham's Architects of Air — who just popped up in Melbourne and will now be unleashing a giant, colourful, light-filled inflatable playground called Daedalum Luminarium on Tasmania. It'll turn the banks of the Tamar River into an interconnected series of caves and caverns with 19 egg-shaped domes, all inspired by the Roman Pantheon and taking their cues from mythology — and an accompanying soundscape created by Midnight Oil's Jim Moginie.

Orville Peck. Image courtesy of the artist and Mona Foma

There are plenty of other highlights on the program to lose yourself in, too. Chief among them is the music lineup, which is led by Slovenian industrial popsters Laibach, who'll perform their take on The Sound of Music (yes, really). If a masked cowboy crooner is your thing (and isn't it everyone's?), Orville Peck will be singing tunes of heartbreak and revenge from his debut album, Pony. They'll both be joined by Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi and his ivory-tickling tunes, Flying Lotus 3D's blend of jazz-funk, hip hop and eye-popping visuals, plus Mona Foma mainstay Amanda Palmer, who'll ask Launceston's ladies to share their thoughts and fears, then turn their answers into a new piece of music.

Elsewhere, Mona Foma-goers can bounce around to the Japanese girl power stylings of Chai, and hear Paul Kelly perform with composer James Ledger, singer Alice Keath and the Seraphim Trio. And, in the type of show we're betting you haven't seen before, Berlin-based Holly Herndon is performing with her self-designed, artificially intelligent 'baby' called Spawn.

MONA/Rémi Chauvin. Image courtesy of the artist and MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Keen to keep listening? Sound artist Akio Suzuki wants you to do just that, creating an immersive sound walk that's inspired by — and will take you around — Launceston. And while you're on your feet, follow them to huge puppet show King Ubu, which'll stage a version of Alfred Jarry's 19th-century French satire Ubu Roi in the famed Cataract Gorge with giant puppets.

Among the other standouts, MESS and Soma Lumia's Hypnos Cave re-imagines existing Launceston attraction The Dark Ride — with lasers, video art, lights and a synth soundtrack adding an extra layer to the watery, convict era-inspired barge trip. You can also head along to The Centre, a collection of choreographed works inspired by after-school sport (complete with snacks), or ponder how sweat and even dead skin could play a role in futuristic fashion with designers Alice Potts and Tarryn Handcock.

Laughing like kookaburras, enjoying Indigenous Australian art out of the city, watching movies about artists and hearing electronic beats inspired by the ancient music of the Japanese royal court — that's all on the bill, too. As is Mona Foma's beloved after-hours party Faux Mo: Working 9 to 5 (which'll run from 9pm–5am, naturally, and include breakfast at 4am).

Mona Foma runs from January 11–20, 2020, in Launceston, Tasmania. For more information or to grab tickets from 10am AEDT on Monday, October 21, head to

Top image: 'Daedalum' by Architects of Air (UK). Image courtesy of the artist/studio and Mona Foma.

Published on October 18, 2019 by Sarah Ward
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