Podcaster, radio presenter, DJ and influencer Flex Mami might be best known as a staple of the Sydney scene where she grew up. But in recent years she’s been splitting her time between Sydney and Hobart.
“I was lured in by a good friend of mine who moved to Hobart a few years ago,” says Flex. “She showed me this amazing place that was doing such a great job of infusing culture and community, sustainability, nightlife, fashion and art, all in a way that didn’t feel pretentious. It’s almost like everybody there has a civic duty to make sure cool shit is happening.”
That sensibility comes to the fore in summer, when the annual Mona Foma festival takes over Launceston (February 17-19) and Hobart (February 24-26) for a stretch of performances, installations, parties and more.
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As a regular festival attendee, Flex has form with navigating the festival’s innate unknown. “I walked into an installation last year where this guy was able to make music and sonic aural beats by plugging in cords to mushrooms,” says Flex. [The Mush Room by EPØKHE and The Glue Society – read Broadsheet’s review of Mona Foma 2022 in Hobart]. The play, Coil, by the re:group collective was another highlight. “The premise of the play is they’re filming a movie,” says Flex. “By the end of the play you get to watch the movie they were filming in front of you while they were doing the play.” With an overwhelming program to experience each year, Flex recommends first-timers be flexible. “Definitely familiarise yourself with three things you want to go to, but be open to letting people lead you,” says Flex. “Plan to be engaged for a full day. There’s no like ‘I’m just going to tap out for the evening’. No babe. It’s one weekend, three days and three nights and you have to go hard. You have to be tough.”
For those heading to Mona Foma 2023 in Hobart, Flex recommends a few must-dos.
Flex’s top-draw this year is a piece by Tassie-based Chinese artist Cici Zhang. “It’s an immersive experience of monsters and spirits,” says Flex. “And it’s one of the few performance art installations where you can touch stuff, says which is a rare little treat.”
FKA Faux Mo, this is the central party to the festival and it’s nearly always essential. “It’s a party with DJs and dancers and art performances,” says Flex. “I went to one a couple of years ago and it was a Dolly Parton-themed drag show. There were people dressed up as koalas talking about displacement and colonisation and indigeneity and it’s like, I thought I was just here for drag and now I’m learning about sovereignty? Incredible.” Held in different locations around town each year, this year The Party runs from 11pm in the Old Mercury Print Hall on Argyle Street.
One of the perverse pleasures of Mona Foma is witnessing some of the world’s most in-demand and influential musicians play outside Mona Museum on the otherwise genteel lawns. “If you go there for a full day looking at art you can just sit on the lawn and there’s a whole program of music from different genres,” says Flex. “Last year I saw Moses Sumney there, that was super super cool.” This year the big names include Angel Olsen, Peaches, Bikini Kill and Pavement.
Local food and drink in Hobart
While you’re flitting between the big bands and intimate installations, Flex says take the time to refuel at some of her favourite Hobart CBD spots. “There’s Room for a Pony for breakfast,” says Flex. “Then there’s this dive bar called Grinners and it usually serves this amazing popcorn chicken taco on a cornmeal base. And everyone’s obsessed with Pigeon Whole Bakers if you like pastries and croissants.”
Mona Foma takes place in Launceston from February 17–19, 2023, then in Hobart from February 24–26. See the full program and ticket details.
Broadsheet is a proud media partner of Mona.