Dark Mofo Has Unveiled Its Massive (and Mostly Free) 2021 Lineup

After being forced to cancel its 2020 event due to the pandemic, the Tasmanian winter arts festival is making a comeback.
Sarah Ward
Published on May 14, 2021

A vibrating chamber filled with light. Guided night walks through Hobart led by teenagers. Forty-nine search lights beaming up into the sky. Multiple performances by Sonic Youth founder Thurston Moore. Throw in an after-hours art path, late-night parties and a fiery waterside display, and that's still just a taste of Dark Mofo's just-revealed 2021 lineup.

The Tasmanian winter arts festival will return to Hobart between Wednesday, June 16–Tuesday, June 22, after being forced to scrap 2020's event due to the pandemic. Something that definitely isn't on the bill: the now-cancelled Union Flag artwork, which was announced back in March as this year's first program inclusion, then sparked a thoroughly unsurprisingly backlash.

Instead, arts lovers can experience the world premiere of Russian performance duo 404.zero's aforementioned vibrating installation, peer at the always-vibrant Spectra, enjoy Moore's residency (including gigs with electronic music composer Wobbly and New Zealand's The Dead C), and watch a series of sculptural false gods come to life thanks to Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran's Earth Deities.

Jesse Hunniford

Elsewhere, a reclamation walk on opening night will focus on the city's vegetation, exhibition Paradise Lost will explore the work of suspected serial poisoner-turned-acclaimed colonial artist Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, Chicago-based composer and singer Haley Fohr will sing with music boxes she received on 18 different birthdays, and Jonathan Schipper's Slow Room will see a living room slowly pulled into a hole in a wall over the festival's duration.

Yes, there's plenty to tempt you to Tassie in the full program — and, in good news for your wallet (especially after you've booked flights and accommodation for the fest), most of the lineup is free. Ticketed events still feature, especially among Dark Mofo's music gigs, but attendees can still see the bulk of Dark Mofo's 2021 offerings without paying a cent. That includes heading along to its annual Winter Feast in the Princes Wharf precinct, which'll offer free entry after 9pm and all night on Sunday — and going for a splash during the Nude Solstice Swim, another of the fest's returning signature drawcards.

Jonathan Schipper, Slow Room. Courtesy Jonathan Schipper and Crystal Bridges Museum. Dark Mofo 2021

This year's Dark Mofo lineup is also designed to christen Hobart's new Darklab Bell Tower. It's the first bell tower that has been erected in Hobart in around 100 years, and features a 1800-kilogram bell that's been salvaged from a demolished church in Chicago. So, when you're dancing to DJs late at night at In The Hanging Garden, you'll be helping to celebrate one of the city's big new additions.

And, although the blood-soaked Union Flag is no longer on the bill, Dark Mofo is still planning to make art from its audience — or from their loved ones' remains, to be exact. As part of a piece called Memorial by Alex Podger, the festival is calling for Tasmanian residents to provide the ashes of their loved ones, which will be placed into a handmade firework shell and then launched above the Derwent River, all to pay a fleeting but eye-catching tribute to life's beauty and complexity.

Dark Mofo returns to Hobart from Wednesday, June 16–Tuesday, June 22. Tickets will be on sale from late May — for further details and to check out the full lineup, head to the festival website.

Top image: Ivan Volkov, courtesy of 404.zero and Dark Mofo 2021.

Published on May 14, 2021 by Sarah Ward
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