Dark Mofo has been and gone for another year. The festival expanded to encompass two full weekends of the Midwinter Feast as well as a progressive nighttime journey from Launceston to Hobart stopping off at churches along the Midlands Highway for a series of artistic happenings.
My own participation focussed on the activities in and around Dark Park and a visit to the feast on its opening night.
Perhaps the centrepiece of this year’s Dark Mofo was Siren Song, a city-wide sound installation by Byron J Scullin and Supplefox. The SIren’s Song was played through speakers fixed to buildings all over the Hobart waterfront at sunrise and sunset during Dark Mofo 2017. The evening performance was augmented by a helicopter carrying a speaker designed for tsunami warnings, as depicted in my recording below.
It made the beginning and end of each day an event, with people gathered around the waterfront to mark it. Inevitably there were some letters to the local paper complaining abut David Walsh ‘inflicting’ his pagan activities (some even compared the Siren’s Song to the Muslim call to prayer!), making for entertaining reading.
Dark Park again dominated the northern end of the waterfront precinct. This year’s light show (Dark Mofo has a history of big light installations) was a laser light installation titled IV Project by UK artist Chris Levine and with a soundtrack by Massive Attack member Robert Del Naja and Marco Perry. The lightshow was augmented by plenty of firepots and puddles around the area were a feature of many photographers’ images.
The beams pointed across the site to a distant warehouse where it morphed into another laser beam installation inside the shed.
Another warehouse contained some more large scale installations, although fewer than previous years. One installation took the form of a multimedia (read slideshow) presentation on the life and death of South African photographer Kevin Carter. While admittedly a fascinating story raising some deep moral questions, the form seemed to me better suited to the short film format. The use of some pretty cheap theatrical trickery – flashbulbs fired in the audiences face at one point in the story – only served to cheapen the experience.
Yet another warehouse was filled with loud low rumbling sound – so loud that small children were not allowed in, and everyone else was only admitted after putting in ear plugs. Hooded people bashed and banged on various objects, adding to the din, and through the theatrical mist, one could make out a couple of cars on their roofs, being gradually destroyed.
Panopticon at the Centre for the Arts
The Centre for the Arts, which is located just across the road from Dark Park, provided perhaps one of the most interesting and refreshing elements of the Dark Mofo program.
Students set up scenes, living installations, performance tableaux inside windows around the front of the art school, which were viewed during the evening by those passing by on the footpath – a sort of high-art version of Myer’s Christmas windows in Melbourne.
Dark Mofo Winter Feast
The Winter Feast at Princes Wharf No.1 and Salamanca concerned itself with more temporal and visceral matters, with stalls operated by many of Tasmania’s leading boutique food and beverage producers and caterers. Expanded to run across both weekends of Dark Mofo and with its own extensive program of music and other entertainments, installations, firepits and gas fired beacons, the Feast was one for all the senses.
For more on Dark Mofo visit darkmofo.net.au