A journey to the dark side at this Tasmanian festival


It’s one of the most anticipated dates on the arts calendar – Tasmania’s Dark Mofo, the annual offbeat arts festival that hits the headlines every year. From artists buried alive (under a road for three days) to irreverent religious iconography, this is a festival that has never escaped controversy.

The festival has something of a cult fan base – it’s known for its exploration of the dark and the after-dark through contemporary art. After last year’s festival was canceled due to Covid, Dark Mofo is back with some incredible lineup, with Thurston Moore (of New York’s Sonic Youth) playing New Zealand’s own The Dead C, to a performance by Gavin Bryers and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra of Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (Bryers orchestral arrangement from 1971 based on a loop of the voice of a homeless man). Across town, Nightwalks with Teenagers are, literally, nighttime walks through Hobart with local teens.


Most festival events are free: Spread across Dark Downtown (i.e. the central areas of Hobart, Liverpool, Bathurst and Melville streets) are bars, galleries and public spaces hosting various exhibitions, exhibitions and performance.

The Burning at Dark Mofo, Tasmania.  Photo / Adam Gibson
The Burning at Dark Mofo, Tasmania. Photo / Adam Gibson

Winter is notoriously unpredictable in Tasmania, and much of the festival takes place outdoors, so visitors should be prepared for all kinds of weather, from sun and rain to hail. The festival runs until Wednesday and there is still a lot to do and see. At 5 p.m. today, the Ogoh Ogoh burnt down, a traditional Balinese statue set on fire to purify the environment. Visitors to Darth Mofo are invited to write down their fears and worries, and put them in the belly of the Ogoh Ogoh, reflect on their fears, and then sacrifice them to the fire.

Later in the evening, it’s the last night of the Winter Feast – a wonderful Gothic banquet affair – but there are plenty of other highlights to come, including the infamous Solstice Nude Swimming when Thousands of naked humans will run across the sands of Long Beach and plunge into the freezing waters of the Derwent River in winter. darkmofo.net.au


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