After COVID effectively wiped out travel and the art scene in Australia last year, we have been (not so) patiently counting down the days until Dark Mofo—Tasmania’s truly epic dark arts festival—returned to our calendars.
Taking place for one week and kicking off on 16 June, the festival has finally released tickets for Dark Mofo 2021 and believe us when we say it’s a bloody cracker!
The line-up events will feature work from artists around the world including Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Russia, Sri Lanka, and the UK, along with a series of world premieres and Australian exclusives. While there is a slew of epic events to check out, below are the ones you really need to mark your diaries for.
For this year’s Dark Mofo, In The Hanging Garden’s Cathedral venue will be transformed into X-Cathedra; the festival home of our Patron Saint, Her Divine Holiness Pope Alice. Her timeless mission statement “Love Is The Key'' becomes more relevant than ever in 2021. To restore cosmic order during the Winter Solstice, she is manifesting in Hobart on the edge of mysterious Antarctica. As Santa Alicia, Patron Saint of the Hanging Garden Cathedral, she'll bestow gifts upon the faithful during ancient ritualism and an outrageous ceremony.
When: Wednesday 16 June, 7pm–10pm, Thursday 17–Sunday 20 June, 5pm–10pm,
Where: X-Cathedra, 112 Murray St,
Mona switches on Ryoji Ikeda’s monumental beacon with 49 xenon searchlights reaching to the sky and marking the winter solstice. Spectra runs for the duration of the festival, but you can come visit when Mona is open: Friday 18–Monday 21 June and it lights up from dusk (around 4:30pm). You can also fill up on food and drink at the wine bar and lawns until 6:30pm each night.
When: Wednesday 16–Tuesday 22 June, sunset to sunrise
An experimental percussion score will be transposed from London into a pyrotechnic symphony in Hobart, inspired by Dante’s Inferno and other concepts of chaos and crisis. This special collaboration comes to us from pyro artist Alex Podger, London-based drummer Gareth Brown, audio producer Benjamin Yellowitz, and Stuart Bensley from Howard & Sons Fireworks.
When: Monday 21 June, 6pm
Where: Hobart waterfront
Dark Mofo’s new after-hours art path snakes through central Hobart, with a variety of venues hosting art exhibitions, live performances, and intimate bars throughout Liverpool, Bathurst and Melville Street between Murray and Harrington streets. Running from Wednesday 16–Sunday 20 June at various opening times between 5–11pm there’s a plethora of incredible art installations to be seen. Our tip? Walk around and get lost in the magic of it all.
Sonic Youth founder Thurston Moore will be joined by legends of New Zealand’s underground, the Dead C—who have been hailed by Thurston as one of the most interesting bands in the world. Formed in 1987, the Dead C have continuously walked a tightrope stretched between rock and free improvisation.
When: Wednesday 16 June, 8pm (doors 7pm)
Where: Odeon Theatre
Price: $129 + booking fee
Haley Fohr plays and sings with music boxes (given to her over 18 birthdays), having deconstructed and altered the melody turbines. This is a long-awaited project for the artist, featuring soft instrumentation and ambient sound. With guest support from sound artists Shoeb Ahmad and Alex Albrecht in an intimate setting. We can’t wait for this one.
When: Thursday 17 June, 6:30pm (doors open 6pm),
Where: Altar, 112 Murray Street
If you want to party into the wee hours (you do), head to Night Shift—a double-level dance party. Think: electronic DJs, nocturnal artists, and things that go bump in the dark. More details to be announced soon.
When: Thursday 17–Sunday 20 June, 10pm–late
Where: Altar + High Altar, 112 Murray Street
Price: Door sales $20 per night
The world premiere of a new work by acclaimed English composer Gavin Bryars, written during the pandemic lockdown and featuring soloist Morgan Goff on viola. It’s inspired by the southern winter solstice and a twelfth-century Japanese book by Kamo-no-Chomei, about living in an isolated hut after earthquakes, storms and fires devastated Kyoto.
When: Thursday 17 June, 7pm (doors open 6pm)
Where: Federation Concert Hall
Price: $49–$59 + booking fee
Durational, episodic performances of Gregorian chanting and choral music spanning the last six hundred years will give you ALL the feels. The All Saints Compline Choir is a vocal ensemble that convenes to sing glorious music in a liturgical setting at All Saints Church in South Hobart under the expert leadership of Nick Caddick.
When: Monday 21 June, 10pm–Tuesday 22 June, 6am
Where: Hobart City Hall, 57–63 Macquarie Street
A solstice banquet, dedicated to cooking with fire and breaking bread—put this event at the top of your list. Returning for its eighth year, the Winter Feast takes up residence at the Princes Wharf 1 precinct on Hobart’s historic waterfront, across five gastronomical nights. Dark Mofo will be releasing more deets soon.
When: Wednesday 16–Sunday 20 June
Where: Princes Wharf 1, Castray Esplanade
Price: $10–$20 on the door (Free entry nightly after 9pm, and all evening Sunday, subject to capacity).
Purge your fears onto paper and commit them to the ogoh-ogoh: a gigantic green-lined ground beetle (a bit like a scarab, an ancient symbol of resurrection) leading us through a communal ritual of renewal.
When: Wednesday 16–Saturday 19 June, 5–10pm
Where: Dark Downtown, Watchorn Street Car Park
Price: Free (subject to capacity)
*Ogoh-ogoh | The Burning will take place on Sunday 20 June, 5–6pm at Regatta Grounds, McVilly Drive.
Just as it sounds, you’ll whip off your gear and swim into the light, after the longest night. N.B This is not a spectator sport, so register online to participate in this annual communal ritual.
When: Tuesday 22 June, 7:42am
Where: Long Beach, Sandy Bay
Price: Free by registration.
Among the festivities, the festival will christen the new DarkLab Bell Tower, positioned above the Cathedral at In The Hanging Garden. This will be? the first bell tower erected in Hobart in close to 100 years. The DarkLab Bell Tower has a bell designed to be swung through a full circle in the English tradition, joining St. David’s Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church as the only three bell towers in Tasmania to do so.
For tickets (which drop at 12pm AEST 2 June) and details on the full Dark Mofo program head here.
If it’s all sounding a wee bit too overwhelming, check out this awesome Dark Mofo tour.
Looking for some accommodation while you’re in Hobart? These are our favourite hotels to stay.
Image Credit: Dark Mofo