Over the past few years, the city of Hobart in the Australian state of Tasmania has been transformed by the building of a privately-funded art museum called the Museum of New and Old Art (MONA) on the banks of the Derwent River. The museum has achieved international recognition for its innovative and eclectic collection and daring exhibitions. The museum itself is stunning in terms of its architecture: built into the side of a cliff in an outer suburb of Hobart surrounded by vineyards. The influence of MONA, however, extends way beyond this museum. MONA has been behind a number of festivals held in Hobart throughout the year promoting arts, music and food.
The best, in my opinion, is the Dark Mofo Winter Festival – a gothic edgy compilation of events in midwinter that push the boundaries of art and music and inject a wonderful sense of mystery and allure to a town that sits at the southern edges of the world. Read this review of last year’s Dark Mofo Festival: Dark Mofo is about making a strangely beautiful town seem deliciously deranged.
Recalling the unhinged imagination of that other Australian institution, The Birthday Party, the programme for 2017 – labelled as “New Wonders, New Horrors” – has just been released and it is amazing.
Most notable from a musical angle is the announcement that Einstürzende Neubauten, Xiu Xiu and Mogwai will be playing at the festival, along with Scandinavian noise merchants Ulver and a host of innovative artists including:
Ancient Rain – Australia’s legendary Paul Kelly joining with Irish singer Camille O’Sullivan and composer Feargal Murray performing songs inspired by one hundred years of Irish letters, from Yeats and Heaney to Joyce and more.
Buried Country – A celebration of the buried story of Australian Aboriginal country music.
A.B Original and Thelma Plum – hard hitting political hip-hop from winners of the recent Australian Music Prize.
Sophie Hutchings – post-classical piano.
Hymns to the Dead – one night multi-band metal festival featuring Norwegian black metal band Taake, British grindcore and black metal groups Anaal Nathrakh and Grave Miasma. Australian Mournful Congregation and New Zealand/scotland’s Barshasketh.
Borderlands – experimental minimalist electro from artists including Alessandro Cortini from Nine Inch Nails.
The list of performances and events is considerable, spread over two weeks and culminating in the infamous nude solstice swim on 21 June and Ogoh-ogoh – The Burning Ritual. There are a number of free events including spectacular light shows and installations as well as the wonderful Winter Feast that runs throughout the two weeks.
Full details and tickets can be found here, and tickets go on sale from Tuesday, 11 April in the morning (Australian eastern standard time).