The biggest challenge for artistic director Leigh Carmichael, mastermind behind Hobart’s hugely successful winter festival Dark Mofo is to keep it mysterious and energetic. After all, how titillating can a nude swim in the icy Derwent River remain for visitors, year after year?
Carmichael seems to have endless tricks up his sleeve and says the idea of darkness and night in our inner worlds provides rich inspiration for artists, poets and writers. This year he is exploring the notion of silence. “Ironically it’s shaping up to be quite loud. We can say with some confidence that it will be suitably dark, I suspect the darkest yet.” He reckons the exclusive Australian performance of Norway’s Ulver will be a highlight.
Carmichael says that while the format and curatorial direction remains largely the same from year to year, Dark Mofo’s lineup and mix of art and artists is always changing, with the organising team always attempting to create a space that feels uncomfortable.
“We never know if it’s going to work or not,” he says. “It’s always a nice surprise when it does! There is an unending source of material from which to draw for Dark Mofo… science and technology are helping us to under- stand what’s happening around us, but understanding ourselves is just as mysterious as ever. This may explain the allure of the art, and why the festival has such a wide appeal. There is no doubt it’s a challenge to reinvent the experience each year, but I guess therein lies the answer.”