Introverted maths nerd. Gambling magnate. Shy misfit. Branding genius. David Walsh, the man behind Hobart's extraordinary Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), is anything but ordinary. The absurdities of his nature can be felt at the museum: his parking space is clearly marked 'God', his late father's ashes are displayed publicly in an urn and if you look up in one corner of the museum, the translucent roofing reveals a tiny slither of his apartment.
It seems fitting then, that he would devise a festival dedicated to the darker sides of human behaviour. Dark Mofo serves up cutting edge, alternative and neo-punk artists from around the world together with discerning audiences at the fringes of society. The result is every bit as outlandish as you would imagine: a dark carnivale that delves into centuries old solstice rituals and beckons our vices, lusts and eccentricities to dance with the devil.
The 2017 Festival will warm up Hobart's icy cold winter from 8 - 21 June. Post rock titans Mogwai headline alongside progressive Norwegian metal act Ulver. Californian art punks Xiu Xiu will perform Angelo Badalamenti's iconic score for Twin Peaks and Melbourne artist Mike Parr returns for the second year after his confronting work Asylum divided audiences in 2016.
Vienna artist Hermann Nitsch is bringing his blood-soaked ritualistic performances to Dark Park. Not for the faint hearted, children or herbivores, it involves his disciples, an orchestra, and 500 litres of blood. Canadian-born UK-based light artist Chris Levine is bringing his super-sized laser work the iy_project 136.1 Hz to the harbour: a night-time display featuring 10km laser beams, 3d-mapped sound, and sacred geometry.
Thrill seekers can get the blood pumping with a plunge into the River Derwent for the winter solstice nude swim, attracting more than 500 revellers each year. Then warm up with a hot cider at Dark Mofo's culinary centrepiece - the hugely popular Winter Feast - dishing up an even bigger helping in 2017, running for a total of seven nights, from June 9-11 and then again from 15-18. Entry will be free on the final night, which features Dark Mofo's annual ogoh-ogoh parade and spectacular burning ceremony.
Call David Walsh what you like, he has been instrumental in putting Tasmania on the map. Tourism Industry Council Tasmania estimates that the museum contributes more than $100 million a year to the state's economy. Numbers aside, there is something to be said about the seamless nature with which he pursues the different arms of his business - so much so that MONA has almost become synonymous with Tasmania itself. The mist rising of Mount Wellington in the dead of winter, the flames licking Dark Mofo's 'ogoh-ogoh' and the deviant artworks hidden in dark corners at MONA: they all exist in a seductive string of mind ephemera, an interchangeable image of Tasmania's identity.
Among a succession of music festivals that favour candy bright colours and shiny gen-y marketing images - it's a breath of fresh (Tasmanian) air to come across an event for those who run away screaming from conventional life. Just like the man behind the brand himself.
Limited tickets still available at: https://darkmofo.net.au