Such is the hype around MONA’s 10-day winter festival, it’s hard to believe Dark Mofo has only been around for two years.
But maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, there’s nothing else quite like this devil-child of a festival, which celebrates the winter solstice (Monday June 22), with a program of all things visually confronting and emotionally chaotic.
It’s disturbing, exciting, noisy and progressive, and the 2015 line-up has just been announced.
This year, the festival coincides with the opening of MONA’s major exhibition, Private Archaeology by Marina Abramović. The New-York based Serbian artist is renowned for exploring her physical and mental limits, and for her role as a pioneer in the world of performance art. Her work is self-destructive, spiritually transformative and will be reason enough to head for Hobart.
But with performances from more than 250 artists including local acts and those with international standing, you can expect world-first art installations, live music performances, immersive theatre and the now-annual naked sunrise solstice swim.
The full line-up is hellishly good, so we’ve compiled a list of highlights to ease you in.
This year, a new festival precinct called Dark Park at Hobart’s harbourside Macquarie Point will house a selection of large public artworks.
Fire Organ will see German “chemo-acoustic engineer” Bastiaan Maris team up with Duckpond (a MONA event producer who previously turned a laundromat in a “Laundro-disco”). Maris is renowned for creating extraordinary burning sound sculptures and “fire music”, in which he orchestrates flames to produce sound.
Throughout the festival there will also be a Night Ship roaming the river. Apparently you’ll hear it coming … and that’s all we know. For now.
The historical Odeon Theatre in Hobart will host musicians, composers and orchestras, with some Australian exclusive performances to look forward to.
For the metalheads, there’s Pallbearer from Arkansas, sludge-metal duo The Body from Rhode Island and King Dude from Seattle, and if you want your noise even more confronting, check out Sydney lady and noise instrumentalist, Kusum Normoyle.
To conclude the festival, the Witching Hour midnight concert series will be an all-night, multi-artist, instrumental celebration at Hobart’s St. David’s Cathedral. It will feature performances by Helen Gillet (New Orleans-based improvisational cellist) and Calvin Bowman (renowned Australian composer).
Road trip and sleepover
Mid-week, there’s a road trip into the depths of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (where Broadsheet happens to currently be giving away a luxury weekend’s stay). Wild at Heart will be a two-night immersive art experience sleepover (June 15–17). Don’t pack light: this is truly the heart of winter.
Catch a rendition of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando at Australia’s oldest theatre, the Theatre Royal in Hobart. It is being performed by Victorian-based theatre-makers, [The Rabble].
There is also a twisted take on Roald Dahl’s already creepy The Witches at Peacock Theatre, Salamanca Arts Centre (appropriate for ages six and above).
Dark Mofo Films will launch the world premiere of the first adult-drama TV series filmed in Tasmania, The Kettering Incident. This will be a special double-episode screening before its Foxtel premiere later this year.
There will also be a curated selection of confronting and cutting-edge films being screened at North Hobart’s State Cinema including A Second Chance, A Spell to Ward off the Darkness, When Animals Dream, Valhalla Rising, Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America and more.
Winter Feast returns to Hobart’s dockside Princes Wharf Shed 1 for five nights of food, fire, music and performance. Curated by creative director Gill Minervini with guest Australian chefs including Martin Boetz (Longrain) Jake Kellie (The Estelle, The Commoner) and Sean Moran (Sean’s Panaroma) and more. Also involved will be the Mona Source restaurant team.
The Winter Feast climaxes solstice night with a demon-purging Balinese ogoh-ogoh parade making its way from Dark Park towards the feast for a ritual burning of the community’s collective fears.
Nude Solstice Swim
Dark Mofo was ultimately created to celebrate the build up and eventual climax of the longest night of the year, which means when the winter solstice eventually concludes, the annual Nude Solstice Swim at sunrise (7.10am Monday 22 June) will celebrate the return of the light, and perhaps the loss of feeling.