Farewell Mona Foma: Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art Has Called Time on Its Summer Festival After 16 Years

If you went along in February, you went to the last fest, with 2024's Mona Foma the event's final run.
Sarah Ward
Published on April 05, 2024

Australia's festival scene keeps delivering heartbreak, with Mona Foma the latest major event to announce that it's no longer going ahead. 2024's fest has already taken place, running back in February, but it will now go down in history as the last-ever Mona Foma.

Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art, aka Mona, has called time on its summer festival after a 16-year run of showcasing music and art — and giving Dark Mofo a sunny counterpart — during the Apple Isle's warmer months. Mona owner and founder David Walsh revealed the end of Mona Foma in a statement, bidding farewell to the event because "it's been magical, but the spell has worn off".

Mona/Jesse Hunniford. Image courtesy of the artist and Mona Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

"At Mona Foma — Mofo — at the Peacock Theatre, we joined the Zen Circus, and Italian punk came to live, rent free, in my head," starts Walsh's missive, which begins by running through past festival highlights.

"In 2023 Peaches turned us all on with her sexy songs, but the thing that turned me on the most was the sign language interpreter signing 'peg'," he continues.

"Guy Ben-Ary in 2017, wiring living neurons to speakers and cajoling them to scream. Gotye playing the ondioline. Robin Fox's beacons. David Byrne and Philip Glass. Wire and Cale. The Saints and St Vincent. Dresden Dolls and Dan Deacon. Sun Ra and Neneh Cherry. Kate Miller-Heidke and Vieux Farka Touré."

"And the finches playing guitar. From Here to Ear. That was the first one, in 2009. We bought that work, but we've never shown it again. It was too much the first time."

Mona/Rémi Chauvin. Image Courtesy Mona, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

"Mona Foma took us around the world. But it ends here. Maybe the end started at COVID. Maybe it's because the last festival was a poorly attended artistic triumph. But those aren't the reasons I killed it," Walsh notes.

"I know that we live for experience but, more and more, I seek permanence, a symbolic immortality. At Mona, I'm building this big thing, hopefully it'll be a good thing, but it's a costly thing. I'm addicted to building, and my addiction got out of hand. Some things have to go before I'm too far gone."

"Mona Foma is one of those things. It's been magical, but the spell has worn off. Only these words, from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, remain: 'live by the Foma that makes you brave and kind and healthy and happy.'"

Jesse Hunniford, Mona

Ending Mona Foma is the latest big change for Mona's festivals. As announced in 2023, Dark Mofo is taking a breather in 2024. A number of the latter's regular events, such as Winter Feast, the Nude Solstice Swim, Night Shift and the Mona Gala are still happening this year, however.

With Dark Mofo, the plan is to press pause for 12 months to take stock and come back even better. "The fallow year will enable us to secure the future of Dark Mofo and its return at full force in 2025," said Dark Mofo Artistic Director Chris Twite in 2023.

The Mona Foma news comes after both Splendour in the Grass and Groovin the Moo cancelled their 2024 festivals mere weeks after announcing their lineups. Falls Festival took summer 2023–24 offSummergrounds Music Festival at Sydney Festival was cancelled and This That hasn't gone ahead for a couple of years now.

Amy Brown, image courtesy of Street Eats @ Franko Hobart and Mona Foma.

2024's Mona Foma featured Queens of the Stone Age, Courtney Barnett, TISM, Paul Kelly, Mogwai, Shonen Knife, and Cash Savage and The Last Drinks, for starters — and Holy Fuck, Wednesday, Michael Rother and Friends (playing Neu! songs), and Lonnie Holley with Moor Mother and Irreversible Entanglements. The lineup goes on from there.

"Gratitude to all of you that came. And to those who didn't, a silver lining: you'll no longer suffer from FOMO for FOMA. And anyway, repetition is regimentation. And regimentation is ridiculous," said Walsh in his announcement.

"Greatest gratitude to those who helped put it together. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me."

Remi Chauvin, Mona.

Mona Foma's last festival took place in February 2024. Head to the MONA website for further details.

Top image: Mona/Jesse Hunniford. Image courtesy of the artist and Mona Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Published on April 05, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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