Dark Mofo 2017
Large-scale lasers, an orchestra mixed with around 500 litres of blood, and a 200-kilometre pilgrimage to six different churches.
Cold and dark and gloomy, winters in Hobart aren't exactly the most attractive proposition. Or at least they weren't until the birth of Dark Mofo. Presented by the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), for the past few years this immersive arts festival has disturbed and dazzled locals and mainlanders alike with a mix of music, performances, installations, light and sound works, and art that simply defies categorisation. And from the looks of things, 2017 will be no exception.
Dark Mofo's 2017 lineup is an expectedly weird and wondrous beast, featuring all manner of artists from around Tasmania, Australia and the world. Creative director Leigh Carmichael has called the program their "most ambitious yet", while pointing to a number of works — including iy_project 136.1 Hz, a large-scale laser work by the UK's Chris Levine, and Siren Song, a city-wide audio piece involving a range of female artists — as highlights sure to keep "the audience, the organisers, and some of the authorities enthralled."
Carmichael also draws attention to 150.Action, from Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch. The dark, disturbing performance piece involves an orchestra and around 500 litres of blood, and is sure to be one of the standouts of the final weekend. "This work will be extremely confronting and challenging, but we would encourage our audience to embrace the opportunity to witness the intensity of the ritual, in this one-off exclusive performance, unlikely to ever happen in Australia again," said Carmichael.
Then there's Crossing, a 200-kilometre pilgrimage down the Midlands Highway, which will take participants on a pilgrimage to six different churches over six consecutive nights. They'll experience a mix of light, sound and video art along with organ and theremin performances from Melbourne's Miles Brown.
Of course it should go without saying that this is just the tip of the iceberg. This year's enormous music lineup features the likes of Scottish art-rock legends Mogwai, indigenous hip-hop act A.B. Original, and Norwegian black metal pioneers Ulver in concert with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. There'll also be an industrial-scale transcendental rave at Hobart City Hall presented by the Red Bull Music Academy.
MONA, meanwhile, will use Dark Mofo as a platform to unveil its latest exhibition, The Museum of Everything, described by its curators as "an astonishing assortment of artworks from the world's first and only wandering institution for the untrained, unintentional, undiscovered and unclassifiable artists of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries." The exhibition will have its grand opening on the first Saturday of the festival, and will be on display at MONA until early April 2018.
Then there are the Dark Mofo staples. The annual Winter Feast will once again feed all comers, while Dark Mofo Films will feature a selection of big screen curios new and old. And who'd want to miss the annual Nude Solstice Swim, a communal dip in the ocean at sunrise the day after the longest night of the year? Just remember, winter in Hobart can be pretty bloody cold.
Dark Mofo runs from June 8-21. For more information and tickets visit .darkmofo.net.au.
Top image: MONA/Rémi Chauvin, 2014. Courtesy MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.