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MONA FOMA (an acronym for Museum of Old and New Art: Festival Of Music and Art, often further shortened to MOFO) is an annual festival based in Hobart, Tasmania, curated by Brian Ritchie bass player from the rock band Violent Femmes. It is billed as Tasmania's largest contemporary music festival and showcases the work of artists in a broad range of art forms, including sound, noise, dance, theatre, visual art, performance & new media. A wintertime version, Dark MOFO, is held annually in June. Its events are mainly shown at nighttime.
MONA FOMA was established in 2008 by Salamanca Arts Centre, Brian Ritchie and the Museum of Old and New Art. The first festival was held in 2009 and headlined by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. In 2010 curator Brian Ritchie initiated EAR (Eminent Artist in Residence) program and John Cale became the festival's first EAR and the second festival headliner.
Dark Mofo is a winter version of the MONA FOMA festival. It celebrates the darkness of the (southern) winter solstice and presents with large scale light installations.
The first Dark Mofo was held in 2013 and was headlined by the 15-kilometre-high light installation Spectra. There was some controversy at the inaugural event after seven people were hospitalised with seizures after attending Zee. The exhibit was briefly shut down by the Hobart health authorities while it was investigated further. The first year also introduced the now annual nude solstice swim that sees hundreds of brave souls dunk in the Derwent estuary at dawn on the shortest day of the year. Initially the nude swim was banned by police, however support of politicians and the general public ended with it proceeding and Hobart's mayor Damon Thomas ended up taking part. Many believed that this was in fact part of a complicated bet by MONA owner David Walsh, who made his millions gambling.
The event continues to court controversy and in 2016 a series of artworks were taken down after art-students complained. Interstate visitors noted with surprise how different this event is from super-safety obsessed mainland festivals, with one writer calling it "the festival Sydney wouldn't allow."
- "International Acts to Headline New Festival". Hobart: Arts Tasmania. 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
- MONA FOMA takes centre stage ABC news Thu 7 January 2010
- Organisers set on Mona Foma's return ABC news Mon 12 January 2009
- "Tasmanian politicians lend their support to nude swim". ABC News. 2013-05-19. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- "Cold shock for skinny dippers". ABC News. 2013-06-21. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- "Dark MoFo piece censored by art school that commissioned it". ABC News. 2016-06-15. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- "The festival that Sydney would never allow". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2016-06-19.