MONA FOMA reveals 2020 program

Dominik Jalowimski + Piotr Wysocki, The Centre - Run Free (video still), 2013With over 400 artists across 25 venues, Mona Foma has announced the program for its twelfth festival, the second of its kind in Launceston, Tasmania.

“Mona Foma 2020 finds us using one of the most beautiful urban nature sites in Australia – Cataract Gorge – as the backdrop for a radical reinvention of the absurdist play King Ubu by Alfred Jarry – which has been adapted to a modern day Launceston,” said Mona Foma Curator, Brian Ritchie.

“We’ll be visited by musicians and artists from Slovenia, Japan, Arnhem Land, United States, Hobart and many other places. And, of course, we’ll be tying it all together with amazing food and drink – plus a talking compost heap.”

Musical highlights at Mona Foma’s Festival Hub in Inveresk include Slovenia’s industrial pop pioneers Laibach performing their boundary-pushing take on The Sound of Music – as well as favourites from their four-decades-long musical career.

Japanese girl power band Chai brings its joyous riot of pop, punk and rock, while masked outlaw cowboy crooner Orville Peck will sing from his debut album of heartbreak and revenge, Pony. LA party shaman Flying Lotus 3D will treat festival-goers to his psychedelic odyssey of jazz-funk, hip-hop and intergalactic eye candy.

Berlin-based Holly Herndon will perform with Spawn – her affectionately named, self-designed, artificially intelligent “baby” to create an electronic pop ensemble of real and synthetic voices. And Tim Hecker and the Konoyo Ensemble will turn their attention to the ancient music of the Japanese royal court.

The Friday evening showcase event, My Favourite Things, will see festival musicians and artists play tribute to the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic with a collection of unusual renditions and unique responses.

Celebrated Melbourne choreographers Jo Lloyd and Deanne Butterworth will be joined by Mofo alumni Evelyn Ida Morris and Tina Havelock Stevens – each on drums – in the work Double Double. Local dance legends Tasdance and Stompin will collaborate for the very first time to present the spontaneous and chaotic performance, Reactor.

In an Australian exclusive, patron saint of Mona Foma Amanda Palmer will be asking the women of Launceston to join her at Confessional – where they will be invited to share their thoughts, fears and stories. Palmer will then transform these confessions into a new song and perform it live on stage as part of her show at the Princess Theatre, There Will Be No Intermission: An Evening of Piano, Pain and Laughter. This epic concert will see Palmer showcase work from her new album in a three-and-a-half-hour-long performance of empathy and survival.

Music legends Paul Kelly and Ludovico Einaudi will also play the Princess Theatre. Kelly will present his latest work, Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds, alongside collaborators James Ledger, Alice Keath and the Seraphim Trio. Classical superstar, pianist and composer Einaudi will perform highlights from his immersive new project, Seven Days Walking – a seven-part cycle inspired by a winter’s walk through the Alps.

At Albert Hall, musicians collaborate in Stockhausen / Launceston / 50 – recreating Karlheinz Stockhausen’s electronic compositions to mark the 50th anniversary of his 1970 performance at the same venue. Albert Hall will premiere James Rushford’s Prey Calling, and Oren Ambarchi and crys cole will perform a hazy, electro-acoustic dream of organ, guitars and electronics.

A modern-day Launceston adaptation of King Ubu will be performed by giant puppets in the iconic Cataract Gorge. Based on Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi – a satire of power and greed from nineteenth-century France, this larger-than-life extravaganza will be staged by Mona Foma and Terrapin in the natural amphitheatre of Gorge’s First Basin. The world premiere production will feature performances from the local Launnie community (including Kris McQuade and John Xintavelonis) and live music by Brian Ritchie and his musical mates. Free and for families.

UK-based studio Architects of Air will inflate Daedalum Luminarium – a large-scale artwork of 19 interconnected domes in Royal Park. The giant inflatable sculpture is an immersive colour and light experience inspired by the Roman Pantheon. Listen out for music created by Midnight Oil’s Jim Moginie.

MESS and Soma Lumia have reimagined the Dark Ride: local landmark Penny Royal’s waterborne adventure through the darkest, kookiest recesses of convict Tasmania – transforming it into a psychedelic dream world with lasers, video art and a specially commissioned synth-soundtrack. Hypnos Cave is inspired by Greek myths of the afterlife where the dead would drink from the river Lethe to forget their past lives and find paradise.

Elphin Sports Centre – Launceston’s 1960s Tasmanian oak sports hall – will be transformed with an exhibition by Mona curators Emma Pike and Pippa Mott. The Centre is a suburban maze of recreation, sweat, and the pong of afterschool- sport nostalgia, infiltrated by choreographic artworks about the community and the individual and the tensions between them.

Featuring video works from international and local artists including Alexandra Bachzetsis, Tarryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont, Jess Olivieri and Hayley Forward with the Parachutes for Ladies, Ali Kazma, Liz Magic Laser, Katy B Plummer, Khaled Sabsabi, Tony Schwensen, Dominik Jalowinski and Piotr Wysocki and Hissy Fit.

Sound art pioneer Akio Suzuki will create a sound walk for Launceston – called Oto-date (or ‘listening point’). He’ll also perform at the Festival Hub – in collaboration with Aki Onda and Hiromi Miyakita – using low-tech and primitive objects from nature and the human world.

Rounding out the festival will be Mona Foma’s infamous nightclub Faux Mo: Working 9 to 5. The after-hours party kicks off at 9.00pm and rolls on through to 5.00am, with revellers encouraged to work right through the night. Taking over a new location in the heart of Launceston – the full Faux Mo line-up will be revealed 26 November 2019.

Mona Foma 2020 runs from 11 – 20 January in Launceston, Tasmania. Tickets are available from 10.00am Monday 21 October 2019. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Dominik Jalowimski + Piotr Wysocki, The Centre – Run Free (video still), 2013 – Image courtesy of the artist and Mona Foma