Q&A with Faux Mo co-curator Willoh S Weiland

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Mona Foma’s late-night party, Faux Mo, will run into the early hours of January 18-19. With the tagline ‘small town, big dick’ (it is going to be held in Dicky Whites Lane, okay), don’t expect it to be shy. Willoh S Weiland is the curator of Faux Mo 2019, along with James Brennan, and she sat down to tell us all about it. 

What’s inspired the curation of Faux Mo this year? 

We were really inspired by Dicky White, who the lane is named after. I really like a town that can celebrate its colourful characters – even if they’re gamblers and casino owners.

We came up with the ‘small town, big dick’ line as a homage to Dicky White, but also just as the idea of a place flexing its muscle; inviting interstate and southern Hobartians to come and have a party on home turf.

We’ve been out in Launceston a couple of times on a Saturday night, and it just seems like everyone is pretty up for having a wild time. There’s this real sense of people being into grabbing culture, and we really liked that.

We were also trying to have a bit of a futuristic vision for the party. We were thinking about what a party would look like in the future, and we decided it would be decidedly more female than it currently is. So we focused on the line-up being made up of female or non-binary artists. I think having a futuristic vision for the disco will give everyone – interstate-ers and locals – a chance to hear a bit of a different flavour of sound from all over the world.

You’ve got this focus on collaborations. It’d be so easy for you to say, ‘here are all our big international artists’, and then put the local acts on at some random time that nobody’s going to be there. But instead, you’ve gone for collaborations. Why is that? 

The festival moving to Launceston is a big opportunity to build something. It should be about investing in what is already here, and to expand and amplify that. Take a singer like Deni, who is a local Tasmanian Aboriginal activist, singer and songwriter. For her to work with someone like Nakhane, who is this international pop star, opens up all this opportunity for her, but it also gives the visiting artist a sense of the identity of the place – and that is really important for a festival. It shouldn’t be about shopping. You’re not just buying acts. It’s about the exchange.

I also think I like going to see stuff where there’s a genuine sense of, ‘this is an experiment.’ People are doing something new, and I’m getting to see something that I wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else. Collaborations help that.

Tell me what you found so interesting about Dicky White.

I like vagabonds. I like characters, those sort of people generally. And he was an artist. He was a musician. He was a gambler. He took risks. There’s a lot of that spirit inside the party. We’re trying to create something a little bit magical, and crazy, and wild.

To me, it’s important that the party is really open. It’s not for young kids who want to get high – I want my grandma to feel like she can come. So it’s fun to have a sort-of mascot, who’s from a historical place.

This clearly has been so much work, and so much thought has gone into what is essentially, as you say, a party. What is so appealing to you about, just, a really good party? 

There’s a Russian philosopher called Mikhail Bakhtin, who wrote a lot about the theory of the carnival, and the carnival’s role as a social space for release and catharsis. In terms of society, [the carnival] plays a very important function in that it allows expression to happen in a positive sense as opposed to a violent one.

So, for me, it’s incredibly important that younger people, especially, have an opportunity to go nuts, and have fun, and be fine with that. Rather than it be, you know, you have to go to the pub and get really pissed and have a fight, it can actually be about bonding and being in a community and being close and present. It’s about allowing people to be transgressive and to play, in a safe environment.

[Faux Mo] is not a place without rules – it’s a very queer-friendly space, and just, you know, don’t be a d**khead – but within that structure there’s opportunity. I think, socially, [a party] has some really positive flow-ons for people.

Do you have any thoughts on the therapeutic, or philosophical, benefits of dancing? 

[Laughs] Yeah, I do.

I feel like we live in a society where we’re encouraged to have contact with our bodies that is very image-focused, and dancing is the reverse of that. It’s about experiencing our bodies from the inside-out and not caring what you look like.

There’s that cliche, ‘dance like no ones watching.’ I think that’s about being comfortable inside yourself and being able to give over and feel confidence and be able to be social. I think it’s incredibly useful, actually, for people to find their dancing self.

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