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Published: June 29th 2018
Festivals are my thing. The Dark Mofo festival, surrounding the two weeks of Winter Solstice, is an intense celebration of art and humanity. A mix of performance art, electronic thumps, sculpture, theater, in the streets, on the streets, under the streets. Read about the festival, including the man who was buried under the main road for three days, in this great BBC article: Dark Mofo The provocative festival changing Tasmania's reputation
The Center of the Festival is the Winter Feast Hall, where the food and drink vendors were trying to out craft each other. Each booth something so unique, fresh, local, and reasonably priced served under sparkling neon lights in a giant dock house draped in red velvet. In the distance, a four-piece band plays jazz from an elevated cutout in the velvet. Craft beers, local wines, and most dishes with ingredients I've never heard of. Particular standouts were falafel pita with a homemade paste of herbs and oils that was outrageous and a roasted lamb dish that had a fabulous grain called wattle seeds. Kind of a cross between a bean and a rice. Of course, I had a standout sparkling wine too - as Tasmania is known for the talents in the sparklers! I found
a Blanc de Noir, which is a special champagne that is made from white grapes with black skins and then fermented a bit with the skins as to give it a darker, golden color and much deeper flavor. Yum!
Across the harbor, and around all downtown, were numerous art displays, museums with exhibits, and FIRE! Fire everywhere! Fire sculptures, fire pits, fire decorations, and also the Winter Fire, which was like basically, you are going for a stroll in the park, but the sides of the path are all flames.
There was a large series of windows around a uni building, and each window had an art student doing a different thing. There were people chained to each other and blindfolded and drawing whatever the audience told them to draw. Playing a giant Jenga game but if someone pressed the button they had to knock it over. Someone sleeping, two others eating chips. A girl playing clarinet while her friend traced your hand on the window. Oh oh oh, and the guy dressed in black leather head to toe even covering his face and his waist attached to a winch that slowly wound up and pulled him to
be swinging from the ceiling.
Then onto the other main area, Dark Park. Whoa, a massive bunch of spaces on the dockyards that housed a bunch of bars, live music, a giant spider in which you could put all your fears for the burning on the last day, and some wicked wicked laser and light installations. These were things that impressed me most of all. I really enjoyed walking into a massive empty space that someone has created an art installation. The way we were able to interact with the lasers was really cool. In the room with lighted orbs, how different the perspectives were as you walked around them, it was mind-bending in all the good ways!
We also went to the Hobart Convict Penitentiary where they had done an installation on time travel. That was hard to grasp, but wandering the BLACK dark halls of an old jailhouse and standing in the solitary confine spaces .... alone ... that was unique. They had lines, so we were waiting in cages like jailors, but then also you got to experience each of the areas completely alone. It was creepy and sure makes you realize time is relative!
We stopped in two galleries that had video installations, one about Dance Rituals and another time in prison. (Convicts are always a theme here, to be honest.) Also saw some unique sculpture work.
I went to a show one night by Berlin Atonal that was a sound and light feast of weirdness! A variety of performers, each more surprising and had me dancing, but not even really knowing if it was a song or what was going to happen next! One set they fogged up the room so much you could only see the few people around you. Another had me hugging the speaker to feel all the bass. One of my favorite things to do!
The final night of the festival was the Burning of the Ogoh Ogoh, the giant spider full of our fears, placed by people in giant egg sacks over the two weeks. When I say giant, I mean like a two stories tall spider. Starting outside the Winter Feast, the people, the Spider, and two other incredible figures, a bull and a tribal woman all red and black, parade down the main street of Hobart to the end of the park where there
is a giant web waiting to catch the spider. Everyone cheers at the spider and all their fears go up in flames! Hip Hip HOORAY!!!
I really enjoyed this festival because it challenged my thoughts in a lot of ways and of course all the FiRES!!! There were numerous discussions on What is Art? I even got to experience a What is Music? moment! I loved the vibe of being outside and celebrating winter with fires and people everywhere! And I love me a festival that ends with a burning. The lesson of the weekend was simple. Art is anything you want it to be!
Right now my art is connections. I have spent the first part of this year reconnecting with friends, new and old. It has been an incredible journey and I see so much beauty to be celebrated in relationships, and also keeping in touch. Sounds like art to me!
Cheers Dark Mofos!
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