Exclusive Report: Dark MoFo Fest, Part II


Flying in from the mainland of Australia to Launceston Tasmania, the lighthearted  mood had changed. It was much colder, and spirits and ghosts were noticeably among us. Tragedy hung over the island in the low lying clouds and even wearing three pairs of pants, I couldn’t shake the chill, with cold winds from the Antarctic pole blowing, and I was there all alone.

A ghost visited me one night while staying with a witchy friend. I awoke to something watching intensely as I slept, hovering over the bed. Frightened, I shined a light around the room but saw nothing. I pulled the blankets up over my head and breathed just through a small hole. Shaking in fear, it was still in the room, and among the deafening silence and the ringing in my ears… it made a noise, like a sniffling… could it be a ghost with a cold!?!

In the morning there was blood spattered throughout the house, dripped on to the chairs and table. Standing near a blood smeared hand print on the wall, my hostess, Gen and her daughter Pagan, casually dismissed the whole scene on a wounded possum.

“It gets in through a small hole in the wall”  Gen said, pointing to a wall with no hole. She, her daughter, and the cat all nodded in focused agreement, and I averted my eyes to the floor. I wasn’t sure how a possum could do that, I didn’t really want to know. I left on a bus at twilight time with the cold winds penetrating my bones.

I arrived to Hobart with a better understanding of the context for this art festival I was attending. It is very dark, and it is very cold on the outer underbelly of this lonely world.

Dark Mofo is a festival of art culture celebrating the shadows and the cold, showcasing music, exhibitions, installations and art happenings, under the direction of Leigh Carmichael and The Museum of Old and New Art. With so much to do and and so much to see, the whole town was buzzing. I had to keep a schedule, and still even so ended up missing things, which is good to keep one wanting more.



It started hard and fast with Blacklist, the event that said very little about what was to happen, yet armed participants with a safe word before they even walked through the door. The location was kept secret, the acts were unspecified, and abduction was suggested as a vague possibility. To be in this, one had to let go of questions, and completely give in to the unknowing.

This event was first on my list of things to do, it was the one I was most excited to attend, but when I was asked to perform with fabulous choreographer Holly Durant in her Revolve/Evolve performance piece, I jumped at the opportunity. Inside the old city hall, amid unnerving “tingle heads” wandering around whispering in your ears, absurdist videos blasting, and gold leafed cars burning, we performed on a rotating stage in nude body stockings with plastic bags on our heads, dancing  around a ceiling-high sculpture of piled bodies and dismembered genitalia.

Yes, yes it’s all true. Blacklist was a modern bacchanal orgy of weirdness, launching us into a week of wonders that haSpyThree3d only just begun.


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About the author
Spy Emerson
Spy Emerson is an internationally known Conceptual Artist, creator of the Hook-Up Truck. Her works range in mediums, but consistently remain as social engagements, reflecting her passion as an activist and humanitarian. She began her arts practice as a "club kid" at the Limelight Nightclub in NYC 1992 where she escaped with her life to Oakland California in 1995, and remains there today. www.spygirlfriday.com www.hookuptruck.org
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