Mona Foma 2023

Mona Foma

Two Weekends, Two Cities, One Sizeable Summer Party

Mona Foma today announced two weekends of unbridled music, art and mayhem in February 2023, featuring 370 artists across both Launceston and nipaluna / Hobart.

Launceston will play host to a massive free party weekend from 17–19 February, centred around an exciting new hub, reUNIÓN district (known to locals as the Old Tafe Building). Featuring a Complaints Choir singing local Launceston grievances, queer woodchopping in the quad, Nashville indie darling Soccer Mommy, lyrical hip-hop poet Kae Tempest, and a punk bunker of…punk in a bunker…audiences are encouraged to wander the whole site and discover a treasuretrove of performances, installations, experiences, amid a plethora of things to eat and drink.

nipaluna / Hobart offers up three stunning summer nights of Mona Sessions with Peaches, Bikini Kill, Pavement, Angel Olsen, Jockstrap, and Vieux Farka Touré. These iconic international artists are joined by adored Australian performers including Kutcha Edwards, Miss Kaninna and Shoeb Ahmad across the weekend of 24–26 February, following the mid-week standalone Bon Iver show on Tuesday 21 February.

Artist in residence for 2023, US composer, pianist and curator Nico Muhly delivers a triple treat of performances including a concert with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Chorus, while Songs of Freedom pays tribute to the family of John Pat, 40 years after his passing in custody. A late night party—handily called The Party—in the bowels of the Old Mercury Building in nipaluna / Hobart, will feature performers, DJs and lots of fun.

Peaches Photo credit: Hadley Hudson

Brian Ritchie, Artistic Director, Mona Foma, said: ‘After a couple of hairy but exhilarating years due to you-know-what, Mona Foma is back with all guns blazing, international artists returning to the party and a two-pronged approach to Launceston and nipaluna / Hobart.

‘Launceston’s hub experience is a vibrant, complex, immersive and FREE display of art and performance in the old Tafe building—reUNIÓN district. nipaluna / Hobart has a formidable array of concert experiences. Sprinkled around both cities are satellite events. Enjoy two radically different but equally enjoyable experiences by attending in both Launceston and nipaluna / Hobart.

The 2023 Mona Foma program kicks off in Launceston, bringing Mona Foma’s wild creativity to as many people as possible with a free program in the decommissioned shell of the old Tafe. Fantastic Futures and Old Tafe Sessions are the dual pillars of happenings at the site (with free attendance requiring registration via the festival’s website), while other events in venues around the city include Jenni Large’s dance work Body Body Commodity, underwater electronica in the Basin Pool from Leon Vynehall, and the Persian music of Afghanistan meets baroque when Van Diemen’s Band joins Ensemble Kaboul at the Princess Theatre.

Head into the former Launceston Tafe—a place that once promised ‘Fantastic Futures’—for an exhibition of genuine and manufactured ‘coming-togetherness’ curated by Mona Senior Curator, Emma Pike. Fantastic Futures features works by local and international artists including Out Loud by Jonathas de Andrade, a collaboration with a cast of homeless residents from the Brazilian city of Recife, turns the observed to the observer; US artist Kenneth Tam’s Breakfast in Bed is part social experiment and part absurdist theatre with seven guys he found on Craigslist to join his mock men’s social club.

Ex-funeral director Scott Turnbull and artist Lara Thomas demystify the macabre and sometimes playful elements of the death industry in The Director; somewhere between fantasy, reality, and a filmed trip to the beach, punk musician Marnie Weber’s seaside solitude is disturbed by birds in Song Of The Sea Witch; The Queer Woodchop by Pony Express sees a classic country-show competition meet joyous queer festivity in a spectacle of flying wood and fabulousness.

Border Farce by Safdar Ahmed is a video work made in collaboration with Kurdish-Iranian heavy metal guitarist Kazem Kazemi who spent six years detained in Australia’s offshore prison camp on Manus Island; The Complaints Choir sings complaints—your complaints—about Launceston; beat a robot at a game of table tennis in Anthem Anthem Revolution by Terrapin, to reveal a new generation’s hopes and dreams for our country, developed with pakana hip-hop artist DENNI, composer Thomas Rimes, TSO and Dylan Sheridan.

CHANT is a collaboration with Tasmanian women’s sporting clubs who will choreograph and perform historic and contemporary feminist protest chants; Hyperbolic Psychedelic Mind Melting Tunnel of Light sees Robin Fox handing over the controls—light, sound and motion—to one person at a time.

The Director, Scott Turnbull and Lara Thomas by Moorilla Gallery

Christmas Birrimbirr from Miyarrka Media is a documentary from Arnhem Land about ‘connecting cultures through feeling’ and tradition: Yolngu people’s observance of the wolma thunder clouds; and Balanda (non-Aboriginal) Christmas. Martina Hoogland Ivanow’s film Interbeing is shot entirely with thermal cameras, and renders—in slightly eerie black-and-white—bodies, human interactions, and the lingering heat they leave behind.

James Webb’s Prayer requires participants to prostrate themselves to listen to recordings of prayer, song, and vocal worship, gathered from all over the state, and I Hold the Lion’s Paw, Yumi Umiumare and Takashi Takiguchi’s Lost in Place features durational performances of electroambient psychedelic jazz, accompanied by live dance in the fluid, slow-moving butoh tradition.

Joining the already announced Perturbator, The Chills and Kae Tempest at Old Tafe Sessions are I Hold The Lion’s Paw, Chikchika, Parvyn, Yirinda, Turiya Always: Celebrating Alice Coltrane and Soccer Mommy.

Punk Bunker is loud sounds from a concrete box. Expect gnarly, vodka cruiser-driven alcopop punk, absurdist pub rock and anti-racist Muslim death metal. For those seeking a little chill, the Book Club at the Old Tafe library will provide late-night beanbags, beverages, with sounds selected by ‘sonic librarians’.

Beyond the Mona Foma hub at reUNIÓN district, Cataract Gorge offers the perfect backdrop for punters to submerge themselves in arguably one of Australia’s most stunning and iconic swimming pools to discover the sound of electric UK artist, Leon Vynehall’s Floors of Heaven. Bliss out and float along to Vynehall’s carefully curated, pre-recorded soundscape washes through the Basin’s underwater speakers.

Body Body Commodity by contemporary dance artist, performer and choreographer Jenni Large will see five female dancers animate and interact with a mass of pastel foam objects. At The Princess Theatre, musicians from Van Diemen’s Band and Ensemble Kaboul will perform Persian music of Afghanistan, featuring old instruments of the east and west including the rubub (Afghan lute), eastern percussion and drums and soaring vocals.

Late at night in a very old church, A Dread of Voids, sees a quintet of musicians perform a specially composed set of ‘intimate psychoacoustic works’ written for them by Anthony Pateras, while US composer and pianist Nico Muhly pairs with the singular talents of local countertenor Nicholas Tolputt, performing works from Nico’s oeuvre and folk songs at St John’s Anglican Church.

Mona Foma then heads down the highway to nipaluna / Hobart where Wisconsin’s finest musical exports, Bon Iver will play from every warm corner of their Grammy-winning discography for one magical night.

Mona Sessions, a series of summer evening concerts on the Mona lawns, celebrates live music, with bars and food options aplenty. Across the weekend from Friday to Sunday, the line-up includes Bikini Kill, Peaches, Pavement, Angel Olsen, Jockstrap, Vieux Farka Touré, Kutcha Edwards, Miss Kaninna, Van Deimen’s Band + Ensemble Kaboul, Shoeb Ahmad and Chloe Kim.

Also on the Mona lawns and guided by Ngarluma and Yinjibarndi Elders, songwriters from the Pilbara town of Roebourne will sing for freedom on the 40th anniversary year of John Pat’s passing in custody. Presented by Big hART, Songs of Freedom sees a stunning inter-cultural band join local musicians, family and friends to stand together and support better approaches to prevention, and reduce the numbers of Aboriginal young people, who, like John Pat, get caught up in the justice system.

In Mona’s Nolan Gallery, the world premiere of Baby Girl by Amber McCartney and Tasdance is a dance performance, of a figure caught between their body’s original memories and the persona of a new, otherworldly being.

Nico Muhly joins Mona Foma as artist in residence for 2023. An American composer, pianist and curator, he writes and composes orchestral music, music for film, and choral and chamber pieces. Nico and his works can be experienced at A Life Sentence with Nico Muhly, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra plays Nico Muhly and Evening Hymn.

Climate Notes, Anna McMichael and Louise Devenish

At Theatre Royal, IHOS Amsterdam present two works: PRIMORDIAL For Piano and Diverse Media is a time-travelling marriage of science and sound, played on a ‘time machine’ that looks suspiciously like a piano (with some additions)—it’ll be plucked, stroked and hammered by Gabriella Smart; and A Deep Black Sleep, a film noir opera about a composer in an authoritarian state, and the price of artistic freedom.

Climate Notes in Rosny Park will see five new works for violin and percussion, inspired by handwritten letters from scientists describing how they feel about climate change. Visitors can see the show or contribute their own letter (or both).

Punters are encouraged to touch the art in Tomas’ Garden by Cici (Xiyue) Zhang—presented by Constance ARI—an immersive magical landscape filled with monsters and spirits, while Dumb Function at Good Grief sees Emma Rutherford, Genevieve Griffiths, Jake Walker, Kim Jaeger and Andy Hutson making useful things unusable—finding the fun in dysfunction. In Pneu, enter a gallery space transformed—by designers Shimroth Thomas, Rachel Vosila, Joshua Castle and Conor Castles-Lynch, using seaweed-derived products—into a ‘speculative vision of a future home’, where a regenerative relationship between humanity and earth (and seaweed) has blossomed.

Festival favourite Morning Meditations will take place in the Fairy Dell in Launceston and at the LongHouse in nipaluna / Hobart, and Chloe Kim will perform 100 hours of public drumming over ten days in both cities.

This is one sizeable summer party. Get around it.

Mona Foma tickets are available at 11am on Tuesday 29 November at

Mona Foma is in Launceston from 17–19 February and nipaluna / Hobart from 24–26 February 2023.

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