I had the privilege of attending my first Dark Mofo event in Tasmania in 2015 and it was truly one of the most unique and fun experiences of my life. The lineup for Dark Mofo 2016 has just been released and it’s possibly even more amazing (can you believe?!)
Before I present my case on why you simply MUST attend Dark Mofo this year… what exactly is it, I hear you ask? Well, Dark Mofo is MONA’s annual festival that celebrates the winter solstice. Set in Hobart, it embraces the colder, darker and weird things in life. There’s always an amazing lineup of music, a huge array of performance and theatre arts and incredible local food pretty much everywhere you look. This is all building up to an all-night performance that finishes with the annual Dark Mofo Nude Solstice Swim. Brrr!
Last year I attended Wild at Heart, a two night winter pilgrimage, art event and sleepover in the dark heart of Tasmania’s wilderness on top of Cradle Mountain. Cradle Mountain Hotel was converted into a David Lynch-esque inside camping experience, the hallways were lined with candles and mystical creatures, and a decadent feast was put on by UK culinary artists Bompas & Parr. Oh and my icecream was topped with caramel sauce that dripped off a naked lady. She was covered head to toe in sauce. I can’t even!
1. The Food
Last year we were treated to a lavish Game of Thrones-eque banquet put on by acclaimed UK culinary artists Bompas & Parr which featured wild fare hunted and prepared by Tassie chef Ross O’Meara. Set at Pepper’s Cradle Mountain Lodge, there were costumes, fire and lots of meat! It was a moveable feast, with each location revealing a unique experience. The highlight for me was dessert (are you surprised?) We were led up a staircase and given cups of ice cream by costumed staff (who never broke character). We entered a dark room and were warned we couldn’t take photos. Candles filled the room and on the table, a naked women writhed around, dripping in caramel. We stood in line and waited for our turn to serve caramel off her naked body.
To get your foodie fix this year, the popular Winter Feast returns – and it’s now extended for 5 nights. The space is filled with numerous communal tables and the hungry hordes are fed by a hure range of stall holders showing off Tasmania’s finest food and drink.
2. The Art
Cradle Mountain Hotel was transformed into a spooky hideaway filled with taxidermy and candles. Our rooms were converted into indoor camping retreats complete with tents and campfire footage on the television. The hotel room phone rang, I answered it. It was a pet therapist wanting to took to me about my dead dog. Then a man in an animal costume ran down the corridor, nibbled my coat with his “mouth” and darted off again. Yep, I was pretty much living in a performance art piece.
This year includes large-scale public art, major exhibitions at MONA and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, an exhibition at a historic mental asylum plus performances by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda.
3. The Music
Last year’s Dark Mofo featured an impressive lineup including Antony and the Johnsons (with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra), The Preatures and performance artist Marina Abramović.
This year features British punk-rock band Savages and UK electro producer ZHU, who will play the huge opening party at Neon City
4. The Weird and Wonderful
Each year hundreds flock to the beach for the annual Dark Mofo nude swim. This unique ritual marks the completion of the winter solstice, the year’s longest night.
Other weird and wonderful Dark Mofo attractions from last year included the opening ofAsh Keating’s new exhibition by Bob Brown and Zeta the alpaca. Sure, why wouldn’t an alpaca open an exhibition?
5. Explore Tasmania
And last, but certainly not least, Dark Mofo gives you an excuse to take a long weekend off work and explore Tasmania. As part of my Wild at Heart experience we got to explore Dove Lake (complete with delicious Ritual coffee) and visit Waldheim Chalet, as well as hiking around Cradle Mountain. I also spent a few days sightseeing in Launceston.
A huge thanks to Dark Mofo for one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. I can’t wait to go back!
Dark Mofo runs June 10-21 across Hobart. Tickets on sale now: www.darkmofo.net.au