Dark Mofo.

Dark Mofo may be MONA FOMA’s younger and darker sibling festival, but as far as favouritism goes, keep me in the dark.

entrance to the winter feast

I spent the period of time between June 13th and 23rd, 2013, crushing harder than ever before on my beautiful new city. Ryoji Ikeda’s overwhelming Spectra installation became the town’s new obsession. People loved it. People probably hated it, too, but I don’t really talk to those people. Because I loved it.



“Imagine a tower of pure, white light, reaching fifteen kilometres into the Hobart sky above the Domain.


At the base of the tower, forty-nine custom-made Xenon searchlights are set into the ground in a seven-by-seven grid;


combined, they point a fleshless finger at our town straight down, it seems, from some sort of imagined, omniscient seat in the sky.

Sine waves – the purest kind of sound wave – form invisible sonic patterns at the base; your movement alters their composition in a way that only you can specify. Indeed, your experience is unlike your friends’, or anyone else’s at all. Now, stop imagining, and wait until nightfall.”


Spectra wasn’t the only thing to marvel at. How about ZEE, the installation in the Beam in Thine Own Eye exhibition down at MAC1, where each person who went in had to sign a risk acceptance form due to the high number of health warnings… and yet STILL within the first few days of operating, ZEE had caused seven or more people to pass out? Look, you either got ZEE or you didn’t. By the end of the exhibition (which ran an extra month after the festival, too!) I’d been through the installation four times. FOUR TIMES. I was crazy about it.


Ian Burns’ “Afloat Asunder” installation also ran for a bonus extra month after the festival, too… hidden in the basement of TMAG, it was a beautiful and calm display of some incredible lightbulb machines. That’s a really banal way to describe it, but I’m no artist myself. I was just happy to stand spellbound while the machines did their thing. EVER NEVER WHERE NEVER HOW NEVER WHAT NEVER. You had to be there…


Then there was the Winter Feast, putting all other food festivals before it (sorry, Taste…) to shame with its extravagant and sumptuous feasting. So many fires for warmth! Musos doing intimate little campfire gigs! Delicious morsels on offer from so many Tasmanian vendors! And who could go past the Global BBQ’s $25 tasting plate? Not gonna lie, I did NOT go get my $5 back for the return of the plate. I have a lovely enamel keepsake in my cupboard now, instead. I also went slightly mad for Lost Pippin’s Winter Queening cider, which was an absolute bargain compared to the Rekorderlig cropping up in corners of the festival (what was the deal there, anyway… some sort of sponsorship biz?).


MONA herself got involved with a till-midnight opening for her current exhibit, the Red Queen. To be honest, that was probably my least mesmerised moment of the festival–so, so busy… and for something I can go out and see at any time in the next few months, really. It wasn’t quite as amazing a night as it was billed to be. (Though I did randomly cross paths with David Walsh’s fluffy white cat, Christ, so the evening wasn’t a complete fizzer for me.)

Got his name dramatically wrong though.

Got his name dramatically wrong though.

Back to the raving, though. Vandemonian Lags! The amazing stage performance about tales of convicts past that everyone desperately wants to come back for a longer run! I was there the night that Tim Rogers was still miked up when he went offstage and straight to the gent’s. That’ll go down in history. But what a stunning show! I’ll even admit to getting a bit misty-eyed during a touching moment or two. And laughing my guts up during Sex Hospital.


Look, I didn’t even get to many other things. Can you believe it, after reading this review? I didn’t even get to see Glorious Skywhale, apart from a glimpse of her butt through the streets as I drove to work one morning. I so wish the weather had been better and she could have taken to the sky, but to be fair, I’m blaming @monamuseum for this tweet which seemed to summon the winter days. It was remarkable—leading up to the festival, the weather had been lovely and temperate, nothing like the winter I’d been warned of again and again. And yet, a day before Dark Mofo began, WINTER ARRIVED. Freezing winds, rain, constant overcast skies; it was everything the festival had ordered. But alas, Glorious Skywhale, she could not let go her ropes.


The awe and joy that this festival brought to me completely overshadowed the couple of disappointments. I can only desperately hope this festival returns for years to come, as captivating as this debut.

I went up to the summit of Mt Wellington on the final night of Dark Mofo, to say my farewells to Spectra. It was bitterly cold, but I was prepared… unlike many of the others who had the same idea as me. The colder people are, the more swear words seem to be magically elicited from their mouths. In any case, that freezing night on the mountain was the perfect way to end the festival. When the next evening rolled around and Spectra wasn’t shooting up into the sky, I felt a little pang in my heart.


Thank you, Dark Mofo.

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