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Dark Mofo and MONA in Hobart: An Insider’s Guide.

From MONA, Night Mass, Altar to the Odeon Theatre, find out where to go and what to see.


Dark Mofo is synonymous with artistic exploration, immersive experiences, and provocative displays, a winter festival for arts, culture and music in the heart of Hobart. This year, the two-week-long festival brought in the likes of Black Flag, Eartheater, Tianzhuo Chen, Laurel Halo, Dean Hurley, Max Richter, Ryoji Ikeda, Berlin Atonal, and ¥ØU$UK€ ¥UK1MAT$U. Alongside a new vanguard of Australian artists from GLVES, Tasman Keith, V, Arcana, Kaylani, Kinder and OKENYO.


Then across the waters is MONA — Museum of Old and New Art — founded by David Walsh and accessible via a 25-minute ferry ride from the city in an art-deco bar boat. On show now is Oceans of Air (17 December 2022—24 July 2023), a solo exhibition of Tomás Saraceno that approaches the Argentinian artist from a native lens. Paintings, sculptures and interactive works are on view to reflect our relationship with nature, society and spiders.


Night Mass: Exstasia II. Photo credit: Andy Hatton. Image courtesy of Dark Mofo (2023)

AT MONA

Moorilla Gallery A Thermodynamic Imaginary (detail) (2020) Tomás Saraceno

Oceans of Air, curated by the in-house team Emma Pike and Olivier Varenne, separate the exhibition into over eleven rooms of dark-walled encounters with nature. Within the subterranean galleries, a serenity follows as you walk through the maze of literal spider webs in Webs of At-tent (s)ion. Then there are declarations of 'Invertebrate Rights' and sound installations that make up a wire-strung symphony.

Webs of At-tent(s)ion (2018) Tomás Saraceno

The 4pm orchestra show is a project by Tasmanian musician Dean Stevenson, who writes a new piece of music every day from scratch and performs it at 4pm with a different ensemble of musicians. Grab a drink and sit in the open lounge, or for something more private behind closed green curtains The Lady's Lounge for high tea. Then there is Event Horizon by James Turrell, an immersive experience of the Ganzfeld Effect, leaving you feeling lost between the beginning and end.


Newly opened inside the MONA Library is a recording studio open to public bookings with a viewing glass to studio sessions by The Frying Pan Studio. Inside is original equipment from The Beatles Abbey Road Album, Pink Floyd and The White Stripes. Be part of history.

The Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) Image courtesy of Mona, Hobart, Tasmania

DARK MOFO

A two-week-long winter festival for arts, culture and music that takes over the city of Hobart at night.

NIGHT MASS

Unveiling Hobart's Underground from Altar, The Grand Poobah, The Alleway and an Underground Cinema.
Alleyway at Night Mass: Exstasia II. Photo credit: Andy Hatton. Image courtesy of Dark Mofo (2023)

In Altar, graffiti-clad walls set the scene as international DJs deliver melodic techno, bass, and trance on the upper floors. Downstairs, immerse yourself in hardcore metal, rap, and raunchy drag shows that defy convention. With every hour, new performers take the stage until dawn.


Seek solace in Poobar's back room, where tarot card readings intertwine with string melodies and theatre performances of the oracle predictions. As you venture further into the labyrinthine depths of Nightmass, stumble upon the underground cinema nestled by the Alleyway entrance. The Alleyway hosts loft DJs surrounded by outdoor campfires, where the underground cinema offers satirical theatre and drag bingo.


And if you're lucky enough to enter the coveted Red Room in the Odeon Theatre, prepare to be enchanted by boundary-breaking performances. Be quick, though, as space fills up swiftly once a show concludes, or you'll be lining up for hours. Night Mass is an immersive journey into Hobart's underground scene.


TRANCE performer Dis Fig pictured. Photo credit: Rosie Hastie. Image courtesy of Dark Mofo (2023)

But the stand out performance showcasing underground sub-cultures was TRANCE by Tianzhuo Chen (Thu 8 - Sat 10 June). The '3 day rave' put on three 12-hour long performances in an immersive nature-scape with art installations, interpretive characters, bass DJs and music performances. Artists from around the globe flew in to participate including Dis Fig, City, KIM KHAN, Lavinia Vago, OMI, and ¥ØU$UK€ ¥UK1MAT$U.

TRANCE. Photo credit: Rosie Hastie. Image courtesy of Dark Mofo (2023)

ODEON THEATRE AND IN THE HANGING GARDEN

Two music venues for international and local acts in a historic theatre and open-air stage.
In the Hanging Garden outdoor stage. Photo credit: Andy Hatton. Image courtesy of Dark Mofo (2023)

The opening night show In The Hanging Garden tilted The Gathering — saw powerful verses of BARKAA, the alluring flow of Tasman Keith, and the soulful dameeela. These remarkable First Nation artists forge a profound connection with the audience and land, setting the tone for the rest of the festival. Amidst this symphony of sounds, In The Hanging Garden is a multi-level outdoor venue adorned with cathedral-like light installations serving local wine or food from wild wallaby, pepperberry and more.


Then at the Odeon Theatre, its architecture is reminiscent of a bygone era. The ornate details, from the intricately carved pillars to the rich tapestries adorning the walls, create an atmosphere of musical grandeur. PS. It's the location of The Red Room, but only expect a seat if you arrive by midnight when doors open.

Perfomer of Night Mass infront of the Odeon Theatre. Photo credit: Jesse Hunniford. Image courtesy of Dark Mofo (2023)

As for the shows, the first weekend saw Black Flag's unapologetic energy and Thundercat's instrumental jazz, while Ethel Cain's haunting melodies closed out the weekend.


Enter the ethereal realm of Borderlands I, where Dean Hurley and Laurel Halo, two electronic composers from the United States, created soundscapes of tension and cinema to sit back and relax too. The second weekend for Borderlands IV will host Tujiko Noriko, Hiro Kone, KMRUKEN and Hüma Utku for their rendition of the electronic music concept.


WINTERFEST AND DARK PARK

Feed the body at Winterfest and the soul at Dark Park this winter solstice at Dark Mofo.

Winter Feast. Photo credit: Jesse Hunniford. Image courtesy of Dark Mofo (2023)

As the frosty air wraps the city in its embrace, the people come out to play at night. Winter Feast beckons, a nightly feast where local and international cuisines intertwine over communal tables, fire pits and live music. From spit roasts, seafood, local wines and craft beers, the indoor-outdoor halls lit from neon red crucifixes and hourly fireworks have their own rugged charm.

Dark Park, nestled within the former industrial site of Macquarie Point, blends raw and weathered elements with contemporary design. As you traverse the landscape, Spectra commands attention with its towering presence. A monumental beam of light crafted by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda can be seen throughout Hobart. But the ancient ritual of Ogoh-Ogoh genuinely captures the spirit of Dark Park. The pinnacle event is on the festival's final night, as the Ogoh-Ogoh is set ablaze. In this ritual, the audience is invited to write their hopes, dreams, and wishes on paper, which they then cast into the bonfire. A practice of catharsis and release to end the two-week-long festival of art, culture and debauchery.


Winterfest and Dark Park become the epicentre of Dark Mofo's enchantment as the winter solstice casts its spell.

Spectra, Dark Park. Photo credit: Remi Chauvin. Image courtesy of Dark Mofo (2023)

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