Ogoh-Ogoh at Dark Mofo 2018. Picture: Dark Mofo
Australia’s coolest and coldest festival kicks off on Thursday and runs until the winter solstice, on June 23.
This year there’s new stuff – like a 24-hour cultural precinct plonked down next to the Odeon Theatre – and old stuff – like the nude swim, and Mike Parr doing something strange.
The following guide by no means covers everything in the festival: there are dozens of art installations, parties and special events running through Hobart and beyond; and like any good festival, the most treasured experiences are often the ones you happen to stumble upon.
But you don’t want to just land in Hobart and wander around hoping to find something spectacular. So here’s our recommendations for where your Dark Mofo adventure should start.
Dark Path: In 2019 Dark Park has become Dark Path due to a unrelated filming project at its traditional home of Macquarie Point. Instead, the eerie and absorbing public artworks and light installations will begin at the Royal Hobart Regatta Grounds and proceed to the Botanical Gardens. Expect larger-than-life Tassie Tigers at the zoo; tea and scones and a “provocative” afternoon tea choice at Government House; a haunting memorial to lost Aboriginal children in the bushland; “primal screaming” in the Botanical Gardens; plus plenty more. Set aside at least a couple of hours.
The Winter Feast: Running Wednesday – Sunday throughout the festival, this gorging of the senses (mostly taste) lays out the highest quality food and drink David Walsh can get his hands on, in a medieval hall-style set-up, at Princes Wharf 1.
Ogoh-Ogoh: The best titled event in all the land, Ogoh-Ogoh, will be held on June 23. This year, the sacrificial burning will be of a giant swift parrot, preceded by a procession around the waterfront. Throughout the three weeks, festival-goers have the opportunity to write down their anxieties, which will be put into the belly of the bird and burned along with it.
Mona: Of course, the Museum of Old and New Art itself will be transformed into an even more ghoulish and unsettlingly delightful locale for Dark Mofo. There will be all sorts of new artworks and installations at the museum, including: Gorillas in Our Midst, developed in consultation with cognitive psychologists; Eat the Problem, with visual works that accompany a cookbook of introduced species; video work that includes modern master Ai Weiwei; and a new underground exhibition from one of Mona’s favourite artists, Simon Denny. Oh, and a giant beacon will be shot into the sky for the last three nights of the festival.
Night Mass: Look, it’s sold out. But you can always put yourself on the waitlist for Dark Mofo’s late night party at 69 Murray Street. This year it includes an outdoor car park takeover from “Sao Paulo’s queer underground”.
Nude Solstice Swim: Registrations have closed for the nude solstice swim, but if you feel like witnessing a beachful of naked humans throwing themselves into the ocean in the coldest month of the year, head to Long Beach, Sandy Bay, at 7.42am, June 22.
Mike Parr: Last year, he buried himself underground. This year, the performance artist will livestream himself painting an empty gallery space while blindfolded.
Office violence: A Forest at 79 Melville Street will be the place to “lose yourself in a contemporary ruin of art, noise, performance, and the violent undergrowth of human nature”. Eleven artists have transformed a derelict office building into a space for visual, sound and performance art that reflects the horror of the 21st century. Limited entries on the hour, with $20 online tickets securing a spot.
Cemetery flowers: The viewers are the creators in a 12-minute sound and visual installation that farewells a near-extinct orchid species, only found in a Northern Midlands cemetery. A recording of each participant singing Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ will be played to the dying flowers after the festival is over. Beware of Imposters [The Secret Life of Flowers] is at the Salamanca Arts Centre, along with three other Dark Mofo works.
A riot in miniature: Jimmy Cauty’s the Aftermath Dislocation Principle has toured riot sites the world over and now its coming to Hobart Town Hall. It’s a 40-foot shipping container with tiny eye-shaped holes cut into the side; each hole reveals a different part of the story of what’s going on in this dystopian miniature village.
Pop culture worship: Artist Paul Yore has been taken to court (in Victoria) for displaying pornographic content, which makes him a perfect addition to Dark Mofo. This installation, It’s All Wrong But It’s Alright, is “a technicolour chapel in which to worship Dolly Parton and Justin Bieber, and other icons of love, sex and excess”. It’s at Black Temple Gallery.
Baba Noir at the Grand Poobah: 10pm June 7 to 5am June 8 will be the place to boogie to 70s-Turkish-folk-disco-meets-Melbourne-music-scene-vibes, plus other guests and their electronica of choice.
Wax’o Paradiso at Franklin Restaurant: 2pm – 8pm June 16. This one is actually all-day dancing, and eating. The idea is to “marry food, wine, and dance in a manner hitherto undreamt of”. The $90.30 entry gets you a cocktail, continuous food offerings from chefs Adam Rough Rice and Ali Currey-Voumard, and a live performance from the smooth disco DJ.
Dark Homo at Flamingos gay bar: 10pm June 22 – 7am June 23: a “night for homosexuals and those who love them”.
Altar: Hobart is about to get a new 24-hour precinct, to settle in during Dark Mofo and operate permanently after that. Called In The Hanging Garden, it’s centrepiece is Altar, a new live music venue that is hosting a mouth-watering array of artists from June 5 – 23. Think Briggs, Kelsey Lu, and Kira Piru. Tickets are only available on the door, and there’s a nightclub upstairs to kick on (called High Altar). Our pick would be Alabama blues artist and extremely colourful character Lonnie Holley, who is playing on June 12.
Winter Tango Festival: TheWaterside Pavillion will be taken over by the steamiest dance invented to date for Dark Mofo. Head inside on June 7, 8 and 9, from 8pm – midnight with DJs afterwards; plus a practice session on June 6.
LIVE MUSIC KEY DATES
- Sharon Van Etten, June 9
- Costume, June 12
- FKA Twigs, June 14
- Anna Calvi, June 15
- Nicolas Jaar and Group, June 15 + 16
- Liminal Soundbath (Jonsi from Sigur Ros and Alex Somers), June 16
- Dirty Three (Warren Ellis, Jim White and Mick Turner), June 16
- Candlemass, June 16
- John Grant, June 20
- Empress Of, June 21
- Roger Eno, June 23
- Mary Lattimore and Julianna Barwick, June 23
- KiKu featuring Blixa Bargeld and and Black Cracker, June 23
Borderlands: A collection of experimental music, including one show that promises “seventeen female performers, a wall of electric guitars, and a hundred nail polish bottles”, at Macquarie Wharf Cruise Terminal 2, June 22.
Laterne: Berlin Atonal is a music and arts festival in the world capital of weirdness, Berlin. They’re putting on a satellite festival at Dark Mofo, on June 20 and 21. Think pulsating techno, dark ambient noise, and all the jarring, warping, stabbing doom humans are capable of putting into the medium of sound.
Hymns to the Dead: This mini metal festival is bringing aural doomsayers from Berlin, Iceland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and New Zealand to the Odeon Theatre, on June 19.
- For the full Dark Mofo program and for tickets, go to darkmofo.net.au