Mogwai, Ulver and 500 litres of blood headed to Tasmania in June as Dark Mofo returns

At sunrise and sunset each day, 550 loudspeakers lining Hobart’s waterfront will ring out with incantations from featured artists

Giant lasers, loudspeakers and 500 litres of blood will be put “to artful use” in the fifth annual Dark Mofo festival in June, the challenging cultural highlight of the Tasmanian winter.

The “intense” program for the Museum of Old and New Art’s two-week-long winter project is topped by a large-scale work by the UK laser art pioneer Chris Levine that will literally light up the Tasmanian winter.

Emitting pure lightwaves reaching far beyond greater Hobart, Levine’s iy_project 136.1 Hz will be based at the festival’s Dark Park hub at Macquarie Point, and presented alongside a city-wide sound project called Siren Song.

At sunrise and sunset each day, 550 loudspeakers lining Hobart’s waterfront will ring out with incantations from featured artists in a challenge of patriarchal power and authoritarian control.

“These projects alone should keep the audience, the organisers, and some of the authorities enthralled,” said the festival’s creative director, Leigh Carmichael.

The Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch will be presenting his 150.Action ritual for the first – and probably only – time in Australia, a work Carmichael warned would be “extremely confronting and challenging”.

Hermann Nitsch
Parental discretion strongly advised: Hermann Nitsch will bring his controversial and bloody installations to Dark Mofo in 2017. Photograph: Georg Soulek/Hermann Nitsch/Dark Mofo

In 150.Action, Nitsch stages a sacrificial, animalistic ceremony with his “disciples” and an orchestra that puts “500 litres of blood to artful use”. Parental discretion is strongly advised, the program warned.

The musical program will be topped by the Norwegian experimental collective Ulver, performing for the first time ever in Australia on 15 June, in the second week of the festival. They formed as a black metal band in 1993, before expanding their horizons to symphonic territories.

On 17 June, Ulver will also perform “a peace mass for Lebanon” for only the fourth time ever, accompanied by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. The peace mass was composed on commission by Norway’s Tromsø Kulturhus in 2012.

Kristoffer Rygg, the sole remaining founding member of the band, said in a statement that Dark Mofo has “pulled out all the big guns ... to drag a pack of Vikings quite literally to the other side of the world in June”. “We have heard exceptional tales about this midwinter celebration.”

The Scottish art-rock band Mogwai were identified as another highlight of the musical program.

Australia’s Paul Kelly will perform songs inspired by Irish letters with Irish singer Camille O’Sullivan and composer Feargal Murray as part of Ancient Rain.

Australian Indigenous hip-hop duo AB Original will also be performing, supported by singer-songwriter Thelma Plum.

Dark Mofo is Tasmania’s most popular annual event, drawing around 270,000 attendees each year for its unique assimilation of art, music and “communal contemporary rituals” such as the nude solstice swim and winter feast.

Will Hodgman, the Tasmanian premier, said Dark Mofo would once again invigorate the state’s winter: “another reason to emerge from hibernation”.

Dark Mofo will run from Thursday 8 June to Wednesday 21 June in Hobart, Tasmania. Tickets go on sale at 10am AEDT on Tuesday 11 April.


Elle Hunt

The GuardianTramp

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