Dark Mofo 2023: Week One

Winter-Feast-Dark-Mofo-2022-photo-by Rémi-ChauvinA celebration of public art, live music, performance, and nocturnal revelry, Dark Mofo 2023 will deliver a sense of exaltation in the coldest, darkest time of the year.

Dark Mofo is pulling out all the stops with exclusives, new artwork commissions, the return of Dark Park, Night Mass, and the festival’s debaucherous masquerade ball.

“This year’s festival will be a reflection of the past decade, and while much has changed, our desire to celebrate the longest nights and embrace winter in Tasmania hasn’t wavered,” said Creative Director Leigh Carmichael.

“The tenth edition will include the return of Dark Park, a large-scale art program, eight nights of Winter Feast and a massive music program. Night Mass will be expanded to five nights and will be Dark Mofo’s wildest party in our ten year history.”

While visitors can expect old favourites, we also have a few new surprises to unfurl. We can’t wait to light the fires again this June,” he said.

With a packed two-week schedule of events, Dark Mofo 2023 venues include the Odeon Theatre, In The Hanging Garden, Altar, Dark Park, Federation Concert Hall, Princes Wharf 1, MAC2, the Goods Shed, MyState Bank Arena, the Baha’i Centre, Hobart Town Hall, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Contemporary Art Tasmania, Good Grief Studios, Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart Library, and Long Beach in Sandy Bay.

Highlights of the first week of Dark Mofo 2023 include:

Visionary composer Max Richter (DEU) brings two double-billed performances of VOICES – a composition in dozens of languages reading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, along with Recomposed – his complete reinterpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Bass-playing extraordinaire Thundercat (USA) drives his virtuosic astral acid jazz into a psychedelic funk fusion. Witch (USA) invite us to surrender to a cascading haze of fuzzy riffs from the heavy stoner doom, with Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis on the drums.

Touring Australia for the first time, Ethel Cain (USA) will haunt us with her gothic pop and Deep South sound. Having quickly sold out multiple shows at Vivid and Rising festivals, this performance is a hot ticket.

Punk-rock icons Black Flag (USA) will perform a one-off exclusive Australian show – their first since 2013. Drab Majesty’s (USA) exclusive performance will mix darkwave synth with dreams, supported by Bitumen’s (AUS) edgy industrial sounds.

Eartheater (USA), a multi-instrumentalist producer whose experimental digital production and three-octave vocal range melds classical composition with avant-electronica.

Pioneering English electronic artists Squarepusher (GBR) and Plaid (GBR) join on a double-header bill of twisty synth electronica. Sleaford Mods (GBR) will deliver their immaculately enraged punk-hop and ferociously poetic convulsions.

Deafheaven (USA) will perform their post-metal album Sunbather exclusively for Dark Mofo, in conjunction with its 10th anniversary, while Zheani (AUS) will dish up a spicy performance of furious fairy trap, screamo, and electronica alongside Mahne Frame’s icy rave beats.

Fulu Miziki (COD) are hosting an experimental workshop on crafting musical instruments from garbage. They’ll also be bringing their Congolese Afro-futurist collective to the stage, using their salvaged trash musical instruments and costumes.

Zindzi & The Zillionaires (AUS) is fronted by ABC’s Play School host Zindzi Okenyo, who will present family-friendly daytime shows for junior darklings.

Singer-songwriter Keeley Forsyth’s (GBR) emotionally raw and magnetic vocals tell stories of hard-won triumphs and the darker corners of domestic life. Tasman Keith (AUS) is Aussie hip hop’s new vanguard, whose music melds syrupy 90s synth with neo-funk, joined by GLVES (AUS).

Borderlands is a program of experimental electronica with four events across two weekends, with the first presenting David Lynch collaborator Dean Hurley (USA), as well as Laurel Halo (USA), with more shows in the second week.

Night Mass: Exstasia is the festival’s epic late-night event, this year bigger than ever, taking over three city blocks where artworks, performances, cocktail lounges, punk theatre, cinema cabarets, clubs and junkyard raves will create a sprawling metropolis.

A new commission from Dark Mofo faves United Visual Artists (UK) is Silent Symphony, a large-scale art installation of kinetic light and sound instruments mimicking planetary orbit.

Two new commissions come from Martu artist Curtis Taylor (AUS), with video work Ngarnda (pain) referencing blood rituals, cultural rites and lived experience, and Boong, a multi-media installation exposing racial violence.

Western Flag by John Gerrard (IRL) is a 10mx10m digital screen simulating a flagpole rapidly expelling an endless stream of black smoke, referencing Spindletop, Texas – the site of the world’s first major oil find, 1901.

Without Us You Would Have Never Learnt About Love by Jason Phu (AUS) is an installation featuring hundreds of jailbroken musical toys forming a tragic opera about consumption and materialism.

Giant Teddy is a new commission from EJ Son (AUS) – a giant Korean pop culture-inspired teddy bear with lasers for eyes and a camera feeding live surveillance to a separate space in Hobart.

Dark Mofo’s deliriously hedonistic masquerade ball returns, this year called The Blue Rose Ball. When the ball has concluded, its mystery venue will transform into the Blue Velvet Lounge featuring live music, performance, and a place to purge your fears, as the home to this year’s Ogoh-Ogoh.

Dark Mofo art partners around Hobart will be presenting an ambitious array of exhibitions, with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery opening TWIST – a major exhibition exploring Dickensian themes that are relevant to Tasmania’s history. The exhibition will be accompanied by The Salon, ticketed evening openings on select nights, plus DJ sets and bar.

Contemporary Art Tasmania will be opening Greed, Rakus, Gierig, an exhibition and participatory performance by Indonesian artist Tinsa Sanjaya (IDN), incorporating ceremony, ritual, movement, and dialogue, to rethink the nature of greed.

Constance ARI will open Walls of Skin, a group exhibition contemplating the body with a focus on the uncomfortable and uncanny, while Good Grief Studios will open Histories – a group exhibition of diverse artists responding to notions of the past, or what has come before, including Australia’s Venice Biennale 2024 representative, Archie Moore.

Plimsoll Gallery at UTAS will open Interfacial Intimacies, presenting a series of portraits and anti-portraits confronting the tensions of our networked personalities—our shadows, our masks, our shame.

Hobart Library will present Stories After Dark, unearthing the mysteries of the past in the library after dark, where hidden collections, records and artefacts are illuminated for a night of storytelling and performance.

The City of Hobart Dark Mofo Winter Feast will warm and brighten our darkest nights. The Feast takes over Princess Wharf Shed 1, Castray Esplanade, and Salamanca Lawns, across both weeks.

The annual Ogoh-Ogoh ritual returns, with The Purging at Mac Point, in which people can write down their fears on paper, and banish them into the belly of our massive sacrificial sculptural totem. This year, the Ogoh comes in the form of a duck-billed platypus.

Dark Mofo’s public art hub Dark Park returns to Macquarie Point, with art installations and a cosy lounge bar with intimate performances; a home base to enjoy throughout the festival period.

Dark Mofo 2023 continues to Thursday 22 June. Stay tuned as we check out Week Two of the Festival on Tuesday 13 June. For more information and full program, visit: www.darkmofo.net.au for details.

Image: Winter Feast, Dark Mofo 2022 – photo by Rémi Chauvin | courtesy of Dark Mofo 2022