Wednesday June 12 marks the opening of Dark Mofo, the darker sister of MONA’s summer MONA FOMA event. It’s billed as a celebration of “darkness and light, birth and death, fire, destruction and renewal” – a celebration that, like countless religious and secular traditions, welcomes the winter solstice.
Stretching over 10 days and including more than 20 projects, Dark Mofo comprises an ambitious offering of performances, celebrations and feasts that fall on the darker side of the spectrum. “The conversation we have with art is a conversation with ourselves,” says Walsh when explaining the concept behind Beam In Thine Own Eye, MONA’s first large-scale public art installation and a sure highlight of the program. “Here, the ‘beam that is in thine own eye’ is meant to refer to the faults in ourselves, but it beautifully conjures the notion of our reality shining from within,” he says.
The ‘beam’ will be provided by a piece called Spectra by Japanese sound and light artist Ryoji Ikeda, in which 49 Xenon searchlights will project skyward creating a “tower of pure, white light, reaching 15 kilometres into the Hobart sky”.
Beam In Thine Own Eye sets out to challenge people’s perceptions through two unique and interactive works by Austrian artist Kurt Hentschlager and Indian-born British sculptor Anish Kapoor. Taking place in an abandoned warehouse on Hobart’s waterfront, the installations are so immersive that the program actually comes with a warning.
Similar to its summer counterpart, Dark Mofo once again promises a full line-up of stunning musical acts, including the beguiling songstress Martha Wainwright, Australian favourites You Am I, The Presets and The Drones, and a strong contingent of local acts.
Another much anticipated program is Vandemonian Lags, which takes Tasmania’s dark, sinister and occasionally amusing convict history and re-imagines it in song and performance. A long list of Australian musicians including Mick Thomas (Weddings Parties Anything), Tim Rogers (You Am I), Mark Wallace, Darren Hanlon and others will enlighten with early stories of the convict settlement put to song.
Emerging from a comment David Walsh made to curators about the fact that he built the museum “as an attempt to understand why people make art”, is the concept behind The Red Queen – MONA’s major exhibition for 2013 and the beating heart of Dark Mofo. Major commissions, provocative loans and yet-to-be seen works from MONA’s own collection, have been selected to provoke a renewed level of questioning over the biological objective and function of art.
With all the inward reflection, sky gazing and moonlight dancing taking place, bellies will no doubt be growling as the three-day Winter Feast approaches. Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz of Porteño fame, Christine Manfield of Universal and MoVida’s Frank Camorra will take charge of the kitchen, producing festival nosh of an unparalleled scale. But fret not, old favourites like gozleme and the gang have maintained their spot on the bill.
And as the program leans toward the back end of proceedings, the Annual Nude Solstice Swim draws closer. Set to take place on June 22 at the ‘crack of dawn’, the skinny dip, which was initially cancelled by Tasmanian Police, edges the team at MONA one step closer to their master plan of making nude swimming during winter solstice a normal part of Aussie life.
Dark Mofo runs from June 13 to 23. The Red Queen shows at MONA from June 19 to April 21, 2014.
See here for the full lineup.