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This summer is sounding stranger than ever, as a cacophonous contingent of new commissions, unexpected collaborations, and world premieres are announced for Mona’s January festival, Mofo 2017.

Curated by Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes, The Break), the Museum of Old and New Art’s avant-garde festival of music and art, Mofo takes place January 18-22 around Hobart, Tasmania, culminating with a Gatsby-style Weekend at Walshy’s on-site at the museum, running January 20-22.

Mofo Curator Brian Ritchie said: “Mofo again challenges artists to collaborate and extend their practice, by using experimental instruments and techniques, or extending their skills in multi-disciplinary ways. Many of our artists this year are presented in ‘artist-in-residence’ mode, reacting spontaneously and multifariously to the challenge and potential of the site. Artists and punters alike can interact and create within the context of several of our art, science and music installations. We’re looking forward to some weird and wonderful results.”

Mofo 2017 begins in the city of Hobart with the Australian premiere and exclusive; Peaches Christ Superstar, in which multi-faceted artist Peaches (CAN) performs the 1970’s Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera as a one-woman show, with piano accompaniment by Mathias Halvorsen, at the Theatre Royal (Thursday 19 January 8pm).

Avant-garde performance opera collective Foundation IHOS Amsterdam premieres a new work, Before the Flame Goes Out, Memorial to the Jewish Martyrs of Ioannina, Greece (Dedicated to those whose names are remembered by the few) by Constantine Koukias, incorporating the Byzantine sounds of Greece merged with Ottoman and Jewish musical traditions, interpreted as a contemporary composition. Featuring Nadia Ratsimandresy on Ondes Martenot, one of the earliest electronic musical instruments, with conductor Mario Dobernig, soprano Rebecca Hilder, violinist Jennifer Owen, cellist Brendan Conroy, pianist Michael Kieran Harvey, sound designer Greg Gurr and projectionist Mik Lavage, at Hobart Town Hall (Wednesday 18 January 7.30pm, free event, by registration).


Mofo moves to Mona for a wild Weekend at Walshy’s (Friday 20 January – Sunday 22 January), as music and art occupy the largest private museum in the Southern Hemisphere, aka ‘subversive adult Disneyland’ both inside and out; from the Main Stage out on the Lawns to the tomblike sandstone Void – 17 metres underground – to the Nolan Gallery with its enormous Snake, the winery’s deliciously dank Barrel Room, and the museum’s elevators, cupboards, carparks and more.

Mona’s outdoor stage will host the Australian exclusive, world premiere of tētēma (AU/USA), the latest project from renowned experimental composer Anthony Pateras with Faith No More frontman Mike Patton in his only Australian show, as well as Puscifer (USA), the elaborate musical and storytelling project from Tool and A Perfect Circle vocalist Maynard James Keenan, complete with costumes and a wrestling ring on stage.

More Mofo weekend highlights include pioneer of mashup DJ Z-Trip (USA), electro-spiritualist Moses Sumney (USA), ambient electronic composer Pantha du Prince (DE), Circuit des Yeux with Haley Fohr’s impassioned baritone vocals (USA), psychedelic nomadic guitarist Mdou Moctar (NER), rare analogue synth composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith (USA), Brooklyn classical cellist with loop pedal Kelsey Lu (USA), Australian Chamber Orchestra Quartet’s industrial-strength violinist Veronique Serret, early electronics maven Nadia Ratsimandresy (FRA), Azerbaijani classical ‘mugham’ collective Alim Qasimov Ensemble (AZE), and multi-phonic cellist Okkyung Lee (KOR).

Australian artists include celebrated Indigenous singer-songwriter Kev Carmody, poptronica producer Rainbow Chan, Hobart art-punk outfit All the Weathers, Sonny Rollins sax tribute and collective Danny Healy Trio, three Aussie improv luminaries – Anthony Pateras, Erkki Veltheim and Scott Tinkler – together as North of North, Sydney-based post-chamber ensemble Hinterlandt, and Mofo 2017’s versatile, experimental artists in residence Phil Dadson & Don McGlashan (NZL) delivering workshops and interactive performances all over the museum site.


Mofo curator Brian Ritchie encourages artists to cross medium, engage in unlikely collaborations, and extend their practices into new realms of creativity. For Mofo 2017, there are some odd matches to inspire moments of both transcendence and mayhem.

Aussie rock band Regurgitator re-interprets the classic Velvet Underground & Nico debut album with Seja on synth and Mindy Meng Wang on Chinese zither ‘Guzheng’. German theremin virtuosi Carolina Eyck teams up with Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil) on guitar and Jennifer Marten-Smith on piano. Revivalist folk and improv collab True Strength (AUS/DNK) brings together musique concrete with baroque via Ida Duelund-Hansen and Alexander Garsden. Drone-based future electronica emerges from micro-tuned metal rods with Overtone Ensemble featuring Tim Catlin, David Brown, Philip Brophy and Atticus Bastow, using Catlin’s self-made ‘vibrissa’ instruments. Mat Ward and No Mates Ensemble create a new live score for a screening of Dziga Vertov’s experimental 1929 Russian silent film, Man with a Movie Camera.


Art is musical too at Mofo, and this year’s program includes multi-disciplinary marathon performances, on-site interactive installations and new exhibitions in and around Hobart.

Witness a ‘wet analogue’ synthesiser called cellF that Australian artist Guy Ben-Ary has created from his own body cells in Mona’s Organ Room. Ruth West’s ATLAS in silico (USA) invites you to don a pair of interactive 3D virtual reality goggles in Moorilla’s Barrel Room and trigger deep global ocean survey sounds. MESS (Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio’s Robin Fox and Byron J. Scullin) will install interactive vintage synths in the museum. Mick Douglas engages participants in an interactive endurance walk on amplified salt inside a shipping container. Julius Schwing and Myles Mumford amp up classic Aussie water tanks as interactive sound devices. Inter-disciplinary sound artist Scot Cotterell will plug some shit into some other shit and see what happens (sic). Ellen Fullman (USA) will play a 20-metre ‘Long String Instrument’ with waxed hands in Mona’s Nolan Gallery with Theresa Wong on cello. Julian Day’s An Infinity Room project evolves, as he uses organs for the first time in a 24-hour marathon of sound at Hobart Town Hall (free entry; stop by before or after Faux Mo).

Mona’s new major exhibition On the Origin of Art (5 November 2016 – 17 April 2017) continues throughout Mofo, in which four world-renowned scientists and evolutionary theorists (Brian Boyd, Mark Changizi, Geoffrey Miller and Steven Pinker) join the Mona team to explore the universal human drivers behind why we make art. Across four exhibitions, On the Origin of Art is comprised of 234 objects from 35 countries spanning millennia and cultures, sourced from Mona’s collection and loaned by 58 institutions from around the world, and includes nine new commissions. Artists include Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Katsushika Hokusai, Lola Greeno, Jeff Koons, François Boucher, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Bridget Riley, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Georgia O’Keefe, Vernon Ah Kee, Matt Collishaw, Andy Goldsworthy, Cindy Sherman, and more.

Mofo again partners with Salamanca Arts Centre in presenting a new exhibition, The World is Not Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century in the Long Gallery. Curated by Chen Lin and Liu Yiping with Academic Director Zhao Li, the exhibition is a survey of Chinese video artwork inspired by Thomas L. Friedman’s bestselling book (2005), analysing globalization. During Mofo there will be a free solo performance by Mindy Meng Wang (also part of Regurgitator’s Velvet Underground project) on Saturday 21 January in the gallery space.

Also at Salamanca Arts Centre, Australian artist Cigdem Aydemir challenges the politics of the Muslim women’s swimwear item – the Burkini – with SAFE, a high-visibility intervention in Kelly’s Garden spurred on by notions of cultural difference and safety in times of terror. You may have seen Aydemir’s Plastic Histories, the pink-wrapped statues around Hobart during Dark Mofo past. Come and be challenged again by her socially and politically engaged art practice, communicating post-colonial and feminist issues.

At Contemporary Art Tasmania in North Hobart, one of Australia’s most rigorous post-minimal and post-conceptual artists, Derek Kreckler explores the relationship between culture and the environment in his multi-media exhibition Accident and Process. Curated by Hannah Matthews, the exhibition brings together photography, video, installation, sound and performance works drawn from the artist’s early experimental practice of the 1970s through to his more recent focus on still and moving imagery in the 21st century.

Mofo takes place in Hobart, Tasmania, and at the Museum of Old and New Art and Hobart, Tasmania, from 18 – 22 January 2017. 

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