Dark Mofo 2017

Ah Dark Mofo, that most wonderful time of the year, when you get to escape from the cold of Winter that envelops Tasmania. This Winter has been pretty mild so far and Dark Mofo kind of snuck up on us out of nowhere. You go down for the opening night and before you know it, the curtain has been pulled across for another year.

This was my third Dark Mofo and I think having witnessed it twice previously, you come to realise that the format is largely the same each year. Dark Park, the centrepiece of the festival down at Macquarie Point always has a big outdoor display, there’s always something cool to do with lights inside one of the sheds and there’s always something noisy. This year was no different with a huge gantry of lasers set up in the middle of the large empty space where the Ogoh Ogoh meets its fiery end.

The shed of lights had more lasers, pointing at a plus which reflected them back on to the ground. And the noise was provided by a big shed with some upside down cars and deafening noise…..Aaaand there wasn’t much else to shout home about really. Dark Park seemed a bit lacking this year. In the shed that usually has some really cool and out there displays, there were two rooms with projectors displaying random patterns on to the walls. Another room had a big square of light, behind which was a small room showing a short video on Kevin Carter, member of the famed Bang Bang Club. It was cool to see photojournalism represented at Dark Mofo but I could see the befuddlement on the faces of people leaving the room afterwards.

At the Winter Feast, which is always fabulously decorated, there was a lack of entertainment and spectacle also. I went to Transliminal, the late night dance event that’s on each year and had been called Black List previously. It was……..lacking. There was no flash, bang or wallop, no performances or interesting costumed characters walking around. It was just a big room with some lights and very repetitive music that you couldn’t really dance to. Cost of entry? $50…..

And that I think is the danger that Dark Mofo is facing. The magic and wonder that I felt the first year wasn’t there. It felt cheap, like corners had been cut, money funnelled elsewhere. I must apologise, I really wanted to write a positive, glowing post on Dark Mofo but I just can’t seem to be able to. Don’t get me wrong, it was still awesome fun and it’s such a fantastic festival that few cities could pull off, I just hope it isn’t losing it’s original purpose in the face of dollar signs and gullible hipsters who’ll pay anything for whatever you throw in front of them. More art, less fart next year please 🙂

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The beautifully decorated table inside the bar at the opening of the festival event.
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The Ogoh Ogoh for this year. Can’t believe they burned such a beautifully crafted piece.
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Guests were invited to make their own flower offerings to this statue inside the bar.
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VIP Lounge, don’t cross that rope.
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The mildly creepy but cool Woodcutters Cottage where you could listen to fairy tales at certain times.
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Alfedo Jaar’s The Sound of Silence was thought provoking indeed but I much preferred last year’s more calming display.
Warming up by the fire outside Dark Park.
Staring at lasers is bad for your eyes.


Cutting up an endless amount of bubble wrap with a set of nail clippers and putting those clippings into a plastic cup in front of you. Yup…..
TMAG went all out for the annual Paint the Town Red campaign.
The lights in the trees at the Winter Feast are always a delight.
Inside PW1 is where the true splendour of the Winter Feast is displayed.
This piece was a big plus.
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Mmmmm pretty dry ice laser clouds.
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And suddenly the lights came on…..No further questions your hon….actually no wait….I have many questions.
It was cool to see this developing over the nights as it grew larger and more intertwined and apparently it was something to do with morality.
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Pew pew, firing lasers into space.


These guys were awesome fun, a Russian polka band that you just had to dance along to.


Trans”lame”inal. Sorry but this really was a load of pants that didn’t come close to justifying its entry fee.
The Ogoh Ogoh burning down at Dark Park. I always enjoy this part of Dark Mofo although it was sad to see that beautiful Thylacine go up in flames.



2 thoughts on “Dark Mofo 2017

  1. Hi James. Good to hear you again. Yes, you get the point across. It doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs AND it won’t be the first time that an event, historically enjoyed and admired, became tarnished because of a preoccupation with profit.

    Looking forward to further reports.


  2. What a pity this year’s event came as a bit of a disappointment (your description of “the befuddlement on the faces of people leaving the room afterwards” really said it all). But I hope it will be of some consolation that — at least to this reader across the pond — your photos are magnificent.

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