Dark Mofo’s 2021 Lineup to Feature Thurston Moore and Human Ashes as Fireworks

After a COVID-induced cancellation in 2020, Dark Mofo is returning to Hobart once more for the eighth iteration of the annual arts and music festival.

The event is forging ahead, despite calls in March 2021 for it to be called off after a request was made for First Nations Australians to donate blood for an artwork. The contentious artwork, by Santiago Sierra, was to be called Union Jack and would see the British flag soaked in the blood of First Nations people.

Having apologised for the huge misstep, cancelling the project and promising a “more culturally significant program”, the event will take place over seven days from June 16–22 with international musical acts to include Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Circuit des Yeux, Wobbly, Om, The Dead C, and Gavin Bryars.

Representing the Aussie music scene will be Confidence Man, Lo!, Tangents, King Stingray, Misery Black Cab, The Amenta, Drug Cult, Grace Cummings, and Shoeb Ahmad.

Hobart locals A. Swayze & The Ghosts, the All Saints Compline Choir, Slag Queens, and Chloe Alison Escott will also be performing.

On the art front, one of the more unusual creative offerings will see Tasmanians invited to have the ashes of their deceased loved ones put into a handmade firework shell, to be launched above Hobart’s Derwent River. The art event is a world premiere from Alex Podger and titled Memorial.

Carrying on the morbidity is The Trench, which involves “surreal dreams of incarceration, sex and surveillance in an old colonial jail.

“Two artists, two video works. Post-menopausal women celebrate their erotic power behind bars after killing the young men who scorned them.”

Meanwhile, Paradise Lost marks the first major exhibition about suspected serial poisoner Thomas Griffiths Wainewright.

If death is not so up your alley, you can opt to walk the streets with a gang of teenagers as part of Nightwalks with Teenagers — a nocturnal, intergenerational tour with local teens as your guide.

From 5pm-11pm each night during the festival, Hobart will be alive with art, music and pop-up bars in a COVID-safe event — the theme of which is “Come to the Cross” (which explains the dead people being used as kindling for those fireworks) — with plenty of free events for attendees to enjoy.

In a press statement, the festival’s Creative Director Leigh Carmichael said he hoped the 2021 instalment would bring “a glimmer of light in these uncertain times”.

Dark Mofo takes place in Hobart from June 16–22, 2021. For the full lineup, to the festival’s official website.

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