Gotye and Godspeed You! Black Emperor to headline Mona Foma in 2018

Curator Brian Ritchie says the festival is doing ‘nothing in particular’, but the lineup still includes post-rock, dance, electronica and poetry

“We decided in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Mona Foma to do nothing in particular,” said Brian Ritchie, the Tasmanian music festival’s curator and Violent Femmes guitarist.

But if anyone thought that the flagship music festival of the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) was going to be doing things the expected way, they were always going to be disappointed.

“People might think that we’re contrarians,” said Ritchie. “And they might be right.”

On Friday, Mona’s festival of music and art (Mona Foma) released its 10th festival line-up. After making waves earlier this year when Mona owner David Walsh announced that the festival would be moving from Hobart to Launceston due to his museum renovation plans, this year’s line-up announcement sees the festival split over both locations. Much of it will still take place at Mona itself, while a “mini Mofo” will run at Launceston over the first weekend of the festival period.

Headlining the festival – and the Launceston line-up – is atmospheric post-rock Montreal band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, in collaboration with Canadian dance company The Holy Body Tattoo, to perform their contemporary dance and music piece, Monumental.

The Holy Body Tattoo perform Monumental, their collaboration with Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

“We’re pretty excited about that,” Ritchie told Guardian Australia. “We’ve been talking to them for several years and this is the first time that we were able to actually get it all to line up.”

Godspeed You! Black Emperor will also be performing music from their new album, Luciferian Towers, on the main stage at Mona.

Also included in the Launceston line-up is Gotye, who will perform an ode to the French electronic composer Jean-Jacques Perrey and the early and rare electronic keyboard instrument, the ondioline – with the Ondoline Orchestra.

The Violent Femmes will also perform, backed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in Hobart. “We’re really into collaborations – even though we’re primarily a music festival, we do love collaborations with other art forms, as long as the music also has integrity,” said Ritchie.

Other artists on the line-up include jazz composer and Gil Scott-Heron collaborator Brian Jackson performing with the Tasmanian Southern Gospel Choir; singer-songwriter Jamila Woods; Iraqi cellist Karim Wasfi in collaboration with and the all-girl Indigenous Australian electronic group, Kardajala Kirridarra.

Kardajala Kirridarra
All-girl Indigenous Australian electronic/hip-hop group Kardajala Kirridarra. Photograph: Supplied: Mona Foma

There’s also the esoteric Green Brain Cycle, in which Australian concert pianist and composer Michael Kieran Harvey – who “writes stuff to challenge himself”, according to Ritchie – will create a musical interpretation of Frank Herbert’s 1966 science fiction novel, The Green Brain. Tasmanian installation artist Brigita Ozolins will create a “meditative space” for Michael to perform the work in, while writer Arjun von Caemmerer will cover the walls of the space with poetry.

“What I’m proud of is that we’ve been able to create almost a utopian format for presenting music,” said Ritchie. The next challenge is to create something sustainable and repeatable: “You can only make a splash so many times.”

The full line-up is available on Mona Foma’s website. Tickets go on sale midday Monday 16 October.

Mona Foma’s Mini Mofo will take place in Launceston from 12–14 January, and Mona Foma’s main program will take place in Hobart from 15–22 January.

Stephanie Convery

The GuardianTramp

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