With its provocative art, unmissable live performances and a heartwarming winter feast, it’s hard not to feel a sense of FOMO when Dark Mofo rolls through Hobart every year.
An acknowledgement of all things dark and confronting, as well as a celebration of beauty, found within such taboo areas, each year the festival attracts a fair share of attention both locally and internationally, with some of the world’s finest artists, musicians and creatives assembling for the week.
The 2019 edition was no different, with performances from the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Dirty Three, Candlemass, art installations by acclaimed creatives Eric Demetriou, Paul McCarthy (not that one, the other one), feasts, dark raves, light installations, feats and literally countless and all manner of other alternative rabbit holes to explore (freezing nude swims, anybody?).
While the sun may have risen for another year, it’s certainly worth casting an eye back on what was for 2019 and maybe convince those who didn’t make the pilgrimage to block out 2020 for their blackened fix. So, without further ado, here are five things that made Dark MOFO 2019 so memorable.
1) Real Violence – Jordan Wolfson
This confronting interactive art piece was one of the main talking points from ‘The Forest’ art space, set up in the middle of Hobart town. Participants donned a virtual headset and bore witness to a horrifically realistic video of a man being bashed with a baseball bat by the artist.
When it premiered at the Whitney Biennial in 2017 one reviewer noted that it was “the most disturbing, horrifying artwork I have ever seen”, with the piece designed to take the audience from violence on-screen (which many casually consume) to a real-life street setting.
2) Luminal Soundbath- Jonsi (Sigur Ros) & Alex Somers
A work designed by the Sigur Ros mastermind and his musical collaborator and partner (who both also recently worked with our own Troye Sivan), the Luminal Soundbath was another four-dimensional work, with participants lying down in a haze filled, magically lit chamber.
From there, Jonsi and Somers create ambient sounds to wash over the meditative audience, with blissful synths, ethereal vocal lines and, of course, bowed guitar. An installation that left members in tears of wonder and joy.
Attendees drift into dreamland in the Luminal Soundbath chamber
3) Missing Or Dead – Julie Gough
Tasmania’s history with its indigenous population is arguably the most horrific of the nation. Systematised killings, rapes, assaults and the spread of disease wiped out the entire population of the island in a truly bloody chapter of world history.
Of these victims, more than 180 indigenous children went missing between 1803-1850, many of whom were brutally treated by their colonial kidnappers. Missing Or Dead served as a confronting reminder of this, with a winding bushwalk containing hundreds of A4 posters with the title “MISSING” or “DEAD”, a name (if known) and a silhouette profile.
Perhaps most confronting about this work was the scale, with the papers littering the walk.
Hundreds of A4 sheets like the above made up this silent, confronting work
4) Jägermeister Night Mass pop up bars
Many people associate Jägermeister with nighttime delight; however, at the 2019 edition of Dark Mofo the master party-starters took on a more intense flavour, serving ice-cold shots from two pop up bars at the festival staple night mass.
Did you catch Dark Mofo this year?
– with Jägermeister. pic.twitter.com/Ih6y6VQnuL
— Tone Deaf (@tonedeaf_music) July 11, 2019
Doing their trade from the Night Mass, billed as the ‘dark rave’ that brought festival proceedings to a close, there was no better liquor brand to serve the unfaithful assembled.
5) FKA Twigs
There was really no way that we couldn’t mention this. Despite having some venue hiccups at other dates of her national run, the avant-garde pop sensation brought her unique sounds with one hell of a costume wardrobe, stage show and production.
The sets were completely immersive, her choreography immaculate and the music itself sent the crowd into a dream-like trance. A true wonder and the perfect headliner for the musical program, and a live act that we knew was unmissable.