Mona Foma has announced the program for its thirteenth festival, going statewide for 2021 with a special, Tassie-flavoured line up. With over 352 artists, 90% of them drawn from Tasmania, it’s a year to celebrate the local – and invite mainland friends to join in. More intimate experiences and smaller capacities than previous years suggest tickets will be a hot commodity.
The Mona Foma team have hunted around Tassie’s backyard for new places to discover. Events are spread across 58 venues in two cities, including the Old Car Museum, boatsheds around the Tamar and North Esk Rivers, Duck Reach Power Station, Zinc Works, Potters Hill Reserve Labyrinth, Mather’s House, Paringa Archery Club and Hobart Archers, Cataract Gorge chairlift, Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart Synagogue, Blinking Billy Point and landmark hardware store, K+D Warehouse.
“These are interesting times. Mona Foma has embraced them by engaging with many of the artistic and architectural gems of Launceston and Hobart,” said Brian Ritchie, Curator, Mona Foma. “We are thrilled to present site specific performances and installations that could only happen here and now. Get amongst it.”
Kicking off in Launceston, Burnie’s arts and social justice collective, Big hART takes festival-goers on a journey along the Tamar and Esk Rivers in Acoustic Life of Boatsheds, exploring boatsheds along the way with musicians performing compositions inspired by each shed’s hidden culture and character.
The incredible landscape of Launceston’s Cataract Gorge plays host to the world premiere of Aqua Luma by internationally acclaimed artist Robin Fox: twelve-metre-high water jets, lasers and an electronic composition beamed straight to your smartphones.
Also in the Gorge, artists Rachael Kim, Katerina Stathis and Mads Davey have created a Chairway to Heaven aboard the Gorge Scenic Chairlift, which sings an evolving new composition for rare analogue synthesisers: a meditation on the ebb and flow of life cycles, and an ode to nature.
Visitors wandering the area can also tune into Ancestral Eve – a podcast about phylogenetics, interconnection, evolution, and maths. Professor Barbara Holland provides the smarts, with Brian Ritchie backing her up on various instruments of natural origin.
Stompin’s young dancers treat punters to an All Expenses Paid shopping trip via the medium of contemporary dance, exploring fast fashion, riding the trend train, and the cult of consumerism.
Artists Eloise Kirk, Tristan Jalleh and Kai Wasikowski infiltrate an old car museum in ‘Til It’s Gone, curated by Mona’s Pippa Mott. With installation, sculpture, video and site-specific interventions that suggest a world in twilight and collapse, it’s also a last chance to see the car museum before it’s torn down after the festival.
Harry Holcombe-James’ Self is an audiovisual rite of self-reflection, and a journey of technologically assisted meditation – for solo travellers only.
Instrument Builders Project 5 sees four artists – spread across Launceston – some in plain sight, some hidden away. People inside each space will be connected with those occupying the other two, through layered projections, silhouettes, sound and light.
A new installation in Sawtooth’s new space, Fragile Things from Priscilla Beckand is a reflection on time passing and a changing world. And the festival’s relationship with Design Tasmania continues in 2021 with a collection of artists and designers in Play .
Some events just need to be shared. Both cities will experience Mofo Sessions: evening concerts celebrating Tassie performers, with live music, bars and food options aplenty. Ticket holders can kick back on the bleachers or lounge upon the big yellow mats at Royal Park in Launceston or catch the ferry to Mona and set up on the lawn in Hobart.
The line ups include: The Broken Girls Club, Dinette & Confetti, Glenn Richards (Augie March), Luca Brasi, Mainlanders, United States of Amnesia, Slag Queens, Slaughterhäus Surf Cult and The Sin and Tonics
Big hART’s Zinc is a new exhibition capturing the hidden sound and vision of Hobart’s Zinc Works. Performance, video, abstract woodcuts, and found sound from the site wrought into music and image. The sound work will also play in Launceston’s old hydro Duck Reach Power Station.
Opening and closing the festival is Madeleine Flynn, Tim Humphrey and Theresa Sainty’s Relay / Country Remembers Her Names. Foghorns, boat horns, sirens, experimental instruments, voices, and other sound-making apparatus call each other over land and water, and ask us to reflect on where we are. From wukalina / Mount William and pilawaytakinta / Low Head, to Queenstown, Launceston and nipaluna / Hobart.
Listen Deeply spans two cities, two theatres, one exhibition. In Launceston, humans duet with nonhuman creatures. A Stravinsky viola solo is subverted as a snail ascends the performer’s bow, captured on film in Anri Sala’s If and Only If, and Annika Kahrs’ infravoice features a giraffe and octobass, and the deep sounds they make.
In Hobart, Bidjara / Kunja artist Christian Thompson sings in Bidjara, an endangered language revived in Dead Tongue, and the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS York Band conch shell sextet rehearses Battle Cry (Gift to the Shell Ensemble).
Loren Kronemyer’s immersive performance, After Erika Eiffel, invites guests to discover and embrace the intimate sensation of firing an arrow, and sharpen their skills on a custom-made archery course. Along the way, the targets will reveal the story of Erika Eiffel, the world-class archer who married the Eiffel Tower and attributed her sporting success to her long-term romance with her bow.
Jane Longhurst will be popping up across Hobart and Launceston with free helpings of Samuel Beckett, the poster boy of existential despair. Happy Days is theatre in the wild. Regular festival favourite, Morning Meditations takes place in the secluded, mossy surrounds of the Fairy Dell at Cataract Gorge in Launceston, and in the Longhouse in Hobart.
In Congregational, two of Australia’s most articulate musicians, Michael Kieran Harvey and Scott Tinkler will perform compositions and improvisations for organ, piano and trumpet. It will be loud. It will be silent. Terrapin’s The Ubus returns and they’re ready to rampage – popping up in both cities when least expected.
Hobart’s program features some first class opera and theatre. Judith’s Return, directed by James Brennan is a soaring, romantic and full-throttle new opera, inspired by the story of Judith, a biblical heroine and murderous widow who seduced an invading army general and (allegedly) chopped off his head. The voices of nine male prisoners from Warsaw’s Bialoleka Prison contemplate Judith’s tale, joined on stage by renowned soprano Jacqueline Dark.
And The Masque of the Red Death at St David’s Cathedral is a musical, theatrical take on Edgar Allen Poe’s gothic fable, featuring Kris McQuade and the TSO Chorus. When a blood plague sweeps through Italy, a pleasure-loving duke and his friends party in an abbey until the disease burns itself away.
Landmark hardware store K&D Warehouse will house a series of artworks selected by Mona curator Emma Pike, No Place Like Home. Spanning the entire warehouse, the exhibition features video installations, art and sculpture by local, national and international artists.
Who wields power in the public arena? Something to think about as a horseback patrol of humans and roosters rides into town in Loren Kronemyer’s Mount Force, enforcing a spectacle of public order.
Second Echo Ensemble outdoor performance, Let Me Dry Your Eyes at Beaumaris Zoo, tells the watery tale of a bird and a whale with movement, telescopes and underwater noise, including a drummer in an aquarium.
Australia’s oldest synagogue will bear witness to Old Country, New Sounds, euphoric Jewish music performed by accordion and violin duo Meyers and McNamara. Singer-songwriter Zac Henderson launches his latest album alongside the United States of Amnesia playing their greatest location-based hits in Mofo at the Barn in the Barn at Rosny Farm.
Cultural Burning – a podcast about Aboriginal cultural fire and its regenerative role in the Australian landscape – plays while festival-goers roam Knocklofty, alongside an installation from Hobart’s Tim Coad.
Blocks of ice hang in the air in Lucy Bleach’s Rueremus, each embedded with a frozen stratum of local rocks and minerals. As the ice melts over three days, the rocks plummet, and violinist Alethea Coombe performs variations of composer John Cage’s One6 in a kind of duet with the falling stones and dripping water.
First Nations and multicultural artists will stage an exhibition on sites of colonial ruin in Making Ground: a city park, a suburban hillside, and the shores of the river. Each is home to a former military battery, which the artists will augment with video and sculpture, responding to the landscape and histories of each place.
Tasmanian multi-talent Joshua Santospirito teams up with violin queen Natalya Bing in The Quoll to tell a tale of part-marsupial figures roaming a deep-future lutruwita. And for a stroll on kunanyi, accompanied by the Van Diemen’s Fiddles, and not-infrequent stops for gin cocktails, the Forest Gin Walk will provide.
And over at Good Grief, a collective of artists preoccupied with fictional world building and other dimensions, parallel realities and pataphysics are creating World of Worlds.
Mona Foma runs from Friday 15 January through to Sunday 24 January 2021, with music and art taking place over two weekends in Launceston (Friday 15 to Sunday 17 January) and Hobart (Friday 22 to Sunday 24 January). Tickets on sale Tuesday 8 December 2020 (from 10.00am). For more information, visit: www.monafoma.net.au for details.
Image: After Erika Eiffel – photo by Melanie Kate / courtesy of Tasdance