This is the time of the year I start thinking DarkMofo the Mid Winter Festival run every year by the staff and Artistic Directors fro MONA, The Tasmanian Museum of Old and New Art. The reason I’m thinking about this now, well, first off this is basically a review of the last one and secondly I won’t be here for the 6th DarkMofo programmed for 7-23 June 2019.
So what’s to like about DarkMofo? For me as a photographer it’s the subject matter first, secondly the timing, June is the Winter Solstice, a mystical day on which pagans engaged in surreptitious rituals.
For others, it is simply an astronomical event that tells them they have reached the time of the year where the nights are longer than the days. However, for most people from around the world, this day is one that is marked by a number of different celebrations.
Over the years DarkMofo has gained a reputation for being controversial and dark, both of these things are true and its what I like and I suspect so do many others. Hobart’s Dark Mofo appears chaotic and things are left to chance. But they are carefully designed and curated to bend our minds as we lurch around in the dark from one from one venue to the next trying to process the image indelibly etched onto your brain. Theres a lot of fire and light, like kids at their first Guy Fawkes night walking about with your mouth open and senses stimulate trying to take it all in.
Dark Mofo’s afterparties are called Night Mass and are the hottest ticket of the festival. They are where the really crazy stuff happens. One year a man was kidnapped, blindfolded, driven around Hobart in the back of a van and taken to an abandoned gym where he was photographed tied to a chair. His friend was shown a picture on his phone. He looked unsettlingly vulnerable tied up under the strobe lights.
Another year, a fake hens night picked up random revellers off the street and took them out to a suburban field where the Glenorchy women’s football team performed some sort of weird dance on the oval and were then tackled by the fake hens who had taken off their clothes in homage to sporting arena streakers. Not to everyones taste I’m sure, don’t like, don’t go!
David Walsh’s inverted crosses the theme for last year, were everywhere: lining the waterfront, in laneways, in shopfronts, even at the gym.
There were complaints of course from the christian lobby regarding the use of the inverted crosses, along with hysteria over the Festival growth and fear of tourism from an ex mayor frightened the city would be over run.
In a citywide initiative to “paint the town red”, the glowing red lights of the Dark Mofo festival have crept up the hills and into the suburbs. They’re in the windows of houses and they light up a towering crane in the city centre. It gets dark at 5pm and, when that happens, the streets are bathed in an eerie red glow.
Whatever you think of DarkMofo one thing is proved beyond doubt, Mr Walsh and his organisation has done more to put this state on the map than any other including the government. Yes things get a bit testy, and its not for everyone. keep the faith, let your hair down get out and about see something different. Or just don’t go, get offended somewhere else.
Mike Briggs, Dark Mofo June 2018