Dark. Mysterious. Stimulating. Confronting. Tragic. Dark Mofo in Hobart, Tasmania, is all of these and more. The best thing happening right now, culturally, anywhere, as far as I am concerned. Art, music, theatre, immersive ‘experiences’, it’s all there without really being ‘there’ at all. It’s magnificent and beguiling in its scale, style and substance, but you’ve probably heard much of that elsewhere.
For me, the joy of Dark Mofo is in the purity of a single idea, beautifully and consistently and unwaveringly executed across every brand touchpoint. Even as I use the word ‘brand’ I shudder, as I’m sure anyone working at DarkLab – the creative studio for Dark Mofo – might. It seems such an inappropriately mundane word for such a fuck-you festival. Be this as it may, the attention to detail, everywhere, is simply astonishing. It’s in your pre-festival experience – the instagrams and e-newsletters beautifully considered both in design and expertly-written content. The enigmatic text messages inviting you to be part of something ‘secret’ - if you wish, putting a smile on your face before you’ve even packed your smalls. It’s in the enigmatic message greeting you atop the terminal building, before you’ve even steeled yourself with a deep breath and stepped off the plane.
It’s in the wayfinding, signage and graphics all around town, it’s in the toilets of the ferry terminal with its lighting altered to the distinctly red Dark Mofo glow. It’s in the choice and colour of materials that dress the spaces, the curtains, the lighting, the bar menu, the horses taking people for a canter around town. The goddamn horses, people! They were sporting pointy red devil’s ears.
More than any of that. I’m astonished at the level of local buy-in. As you gaze around Hobart, you can see commercial and private buildings all getting into the Dark Mofo spirit. The atrium of the Telstra building is lit up like some ghastly red horror movie scene, as are its neighbours. Dotted about, here and there, they have all decided to join the party – presumably masking their current lighting with red filters or replacing with red bulbs. But here’s the thing. It’s not just any red filter. It’s THE Dark Mofo red. Everywhere. No-one is slightly ‘pink’ or gone for a rusty-red, it’s the luscious, distinctive, blood-curdling Dark Mofo red.
I’d love to know, are they all supplied with PMS-matched red filters? Have Dark Lab gone to the extent and expense of distributing brand kits across town? And even if they have, how come there are no rogue elements? Or are Hobartians intuitively blessed with on-brand design nous? Whatever…the fact that it is all consistent astounds me.
The devil is in the detail, as they say. Bravo Creative Director Leigh Carmichael and team. Joyful. Simply, joyful.