Saturday, January 16, 2010


By Kylie Elizabeth Eastley
MOFO 2010
Peacock Theatre
Wednesday 13th & Sunday 17th January

Throughout the MONA FOMA 2010 program there is a selection of tiny morsels that are accessible, interesting and challenging. DRIVE WEST TODAY is a collaboration between Hobart based musician and sound artist, Josh Santospirito and Melbourne audiovisual performer Anthony Magen that is well worth experiencing.
Individually, they improvise a range of unique sounds and images that collectively create a sense of harmony, rhythm and tranquility. The small audience who gathered in the Peacock Theatre to experience this collaboration was transfixed by Magen’s images projected onto the quarry rock face that is the backdrop of the intimate theatre.
Using a video camera affectionately known as ‘Elmo’, Magen projects fragile and intriguing images with the use of such ordinary objects as tea candles and beer glasses. Reminiscent of tadpoles, fish eggs or microscopic organisms they wriggle and twitch.
Santospirito responds to the images, improvising with his two electric guitars and a selection of effects pedals to loop, layer and mesh the pluckings, strums and sounds he draws from his instruments.
Never having worked or performed together the pair meld beautifully. Organic images and sounds emerged from both artists who linked musicianship with technology to create a strong cohesive piece of work.
The pair performs together in six shows, with the last three shows on Sunday 17th January.
Anthony Magen also appears alongside performing artist Rod Cooper in HELMETHEAD in a series of shows at the Peacock Theatre.

This festival is living up to its acronym

MOFO Wednesday night

by Stephenie Cahalan

MOFO has to be the festival of music, art and acronyms. At this event there is so much going on none of us have time to enunciate the first shortening of the name (MONA FOMA: for the Museum of Old and New Art Festival of Music and Art), hence the need for an even shorter one! Even the good old Princes Wharf has been glossed up and turned into PW1.

MOFO is the sum of its parts and each element alone is good, bad, excellent or rubbish according to who is watching. A bit like all beauty. And this is a festival of art and music that prompts comment traversing a broad spectrum of opinion.

I have decided that the festival is good in bite-sized pieces, but it is even better if you commit a chunk of time and just throw yourself in for the whole experience.
On Wednesday night, for example, I watched a ‘Pixel Pirate’ video that, like most on-screen colour and movement, offered great images and snippets of meaning for those with a short attention span.

Following that, I sat a few metres away from two artists who have occupied the stages and attention of members of the music community who, to many of our age and location, are purely the stuff of music documentaries. To say it is very cool to be within coo-ee of John Cale on the Hobart docks is a profound understatement. To discuss his role in modern music history is the stuff of PhD theses, for which this blog is not the place. And I don’t know why Brian Ritchie chose to make Hobart his home but I, for one, am reaping the benefits of his presence.

Watching ‘Dyddiau Du’ (‘Dark Days’) was a transformative 45 minutes reminding me that John Cale, Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground pioneered what we know as multimedia. Decades on, the simplicity and sophistication of this five-screen video and music experience is the product of an old hand and master practitioner.

Outside the Cale exhibition, in a circle of cymbals, the performance ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’ left me unsure of its link to its namesake, but it was a interesting experience in sound, tone and cadence. I then had my heartbeat recorded for twenty seconds by Mary (not a doctor, as the white coast would suggest, but the MONA librarian) to be added to Christian Boltanski’s collection of 200,000 others to make into… music, history? It doesn’t matter… the waiting room was so much more pleasant than my GP’s.

If you don’t make it into Cale’s exhibitions, get to have a little dance to the Cumbia Cosmonauts or snooze in the beanbags (as one shirty man told me he was doing as I lounged against his beanbag. I mean really darling, it’s a festival for God’s sake!), then check out Ana Prvacki’s truly lovely Ananatural Production. Being an election junkie I was instantly drawn to the AEC cardboard polling booths, but this is an election with a difference. Check it out and don’t forget to vote!

There is so much going on at MOFO there will be something for everyone to like AND hate. But that’s good – it makes us talk, think and hang out with each other. I reckon that’s a worthy use of the Tasmanian (and sweet sponsors’) dollar.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


This is definitely NOT the Taste !

Mona Foma.
Sat night Princess Warf Shed (PW1)

Any ghosts of lingering commercial mundanity or residual chip frying odours were certainly expelled from the Princess Wharf Shed on Saturday night. Once again it became the vessel for what promises to be another series of wild, weird and exhilarating MONA FOMA festival performances over the next 2 weeks .

PURSUIT – a spectacle of sound, speed and light, is the baby of sound artist Robin Fox, composer John Rose, and makers Rod Cooper and Paul Bryant , who have been workshopping with community members all week towards this performance.

The large murmuring crowd swells and mills in the semi darkness, wandering in front of the giant screens or lazing upon hot pink bean bags before the stage decked with what appears to be an array of bicycle / instrument mutants. The skeleton of the shed hangs above like some giant reptilian bird waiting to be released.

A simple request comes from the stage to be silent ….to listen!

And so the ritual begins as the first lone rider moves off around the figure-eight track to loop through the audience, his electronic horn squealing into life like some wild baby creature crying out in the darkness. He is soon followed by another slower rider, its guitar sound more subdued, a small wheel turning to scrape its strings. And then another rider, and another; all bicycles alive with sound- making, looming out of the darkness, slower or faster. Guitars singing, self - playing drums beating, spinning and clunking ; a violin screeches ;a metal kitchen sink clatters past; children’s toys tinkle; balloons burst; chains and metal bars clank and click; garbage can lids become wheels upon wheels to scrape across more strings; human voices moan; a lone bagpiper on a trishaw howls into the night and a rider balances with one hand and plays his trumpet with the other.

The sound moves around you, past you. You can hear it coming over there, and then it’s here, moving through you, as the faces of the riders loom out of the darkness. All are focussed, driving forward to disappear again.

They come singly, in clutches, then whole flocks - their machines are alive, calling to you, to each other, looming, ever circling and its seems that I have stumbled into the migratory path of some surreal mechanical animals, an insane orchestra of bicycle beings.

And all the while on stage, composer John Rose and sound - artist Robin Fox, feed their complex compositions of string, piano and wind into the mix – layering and building the sound scape. Sometimes they twiddle knobs on black boxes or ride their own bicycle instrument contraptions while videos flash and flicker on the giant screens behind. Close-ups of individuals on wheeled instruments mingle with live black and white footage from the bike-camera that speeds around the track, like some 1960s floodlit speedway or Twighlight Zone Tour De France.
After an hour it reduces to the lone bicycle again, the sound of rubber wheels on concrete, and the ritual is complete.

We sit in silence, I’m not really sure what I just experienced and that’s fine.
Thank you Mona Foma, I realise I have been waiting with bated breath since last year , and now I’m breathing in the sheer joy ,lunacy and excitement of it all again.
Great! Still 12 days to go.

Gai Anderson is a writer and performer based near Cygnet.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

MONA FOMA opening night

Salamanca Place, Friday January 8 2010
by Stephenie Cahalan

It’s on! Another MOFO giving Hobartians a great excuse to get out and get into a big line-up of cool, cosmopolitan or downright quirky artists.

MOFO was blessed to be launching on an immaculate summer evening so that Salamanca was full of locals and visitors blissing out on great weather and company. And with the street closed to cars to allow for the opening event staging, it lent a little air of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas (on a tiny scale, that is).

Mountain Mocha Kilamanjaro gave us every reason to dance — a bunch of Japanese guys in natty three-piece suits making some very cool music, including a cover of a Led Zeppelin classic. As they wrapped up with solos by an exceptional bass player, true jazz trumpeter and keyboard wizz, the band politely asked the crowd to please buy one of their Australian tour t-shirts at the merchandise tent. How could you not do so after such a pleasant request from such spot-on musicians?

As an intro to a festival whose content is hard to summarise in a one-liner, the opening night gave us a good taste of what’s on offer over the next few weeks. Contemporary improvisation to make us think outside our usual musical mindset, and some fantastic, funky music to dance to. And lets face it, Hobartians love to dance, especially in the street. But some music will not be everyone’s cup of tea as many of the acts on the bill are possibly designed to make you listen, think and feel more than tap your toes. Some will be challenged by what is presented.

The knee-high members of my party forced my departure before Kim Myhr, Jim Denley, Mani Neumier and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. But the word on my street was that everyone kept dancing long after dark. Yay… sixteen more days to go!