As part of MONA FOMA 2023 Launceston will play host to a massive free party weekend from February 17 to 19, centred around an exciting new hub, reUNION district, known to locals as the Old Tafe Building in Launceston's CBD. Big ticket performers include Nashville indie darling Soccer Mommy, lyrical hip-hop poet Kae Tempest, The Chills and more.
Artistic director Brian Ritchie said that following a few years of COVID, it was exciting for MONA to come back to full capacity.
"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," he said.
"Launceston's hub experience is a vibrant, complex, immersive and free display of art and performance in the old Tafe building reUNION 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 Old TAFE building in Launceston is being used at the Festival Hub for 2023, with Mr Ritchie saying that he himself performed at TAFE when it was active.
"Some of us including myself will remember this when it was still an acting Tafe. I performed here when it was an active building, but I can guarantee in February it will be quite different," he said.
"We have a courtyard where we will be setting up a stage which will have bands such as The Chills, Kae Tempest and more. Furthermore we will be inhabiting many of the former classrooms in this structure with arts experiences and performances such as The Queer Woodchop by Pony Express.
"If that isn't enough we have a punk bunker on site. If you can just imagine it's exactly what it sounds like. There will be be punk bands playing in a concrete bunker. We have always experimented with our format but this is the first time that we have been able to take over a vacant and disused space and transform it to our will in order to create a festival hub"
Mr Ritchie said the idea of a free festival hub was to engage all members of the community.
"The best part about this for the Launceston community, and also for people coming into Launceston, is that everything here will be free. The reasons for this is we want to make it as accessible as possible, get as many people, get a broad cross section of society," he said.
MONA senior curator Emma Pike said that Launceston is always a treat to visit, as there are many spaces for experimentation.
"This project continues along the lines of other places we have inhabited, such as Elphin Sports Centre, the Workers Club, the old car museum, the old national theatre," she said.
"We are super excited to be here at the old TAFE. The program here at the old building is called Fantastic Futures. The namesake comes from some of the amazing branding we found in the back corners of the TAFE, which presenting the old school as helping plan fantastic futures for the students that came here."
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 a mix of social experiment and 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 explore the macabre and sometimes playful elements of the death industry in The Director.
The Queer Woodchop by Pony Express sees a classic country-show competition meet joyous queer festivity in a spectacle of flying wood.
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 will perform a compilation of audience feedback on their complaints of Launceston.
CHANT is a collaboration with Tasmanian women's sporting clubs who will choreograph and perform historic and contemporary feminist protest chants.
Beyond the Mona Foma hub at reUNION district, Cataract Gorge offers the perfect backdrop for punters to submerge themselves in one of Australia's most stunning and iconic swimming pools to discover the sound of electric UK artist, Leon Vynehall's Floors of Heaven.
Attendees are able to swim in the Gorge pool and hear the sounds and they submerge themselves underwater.
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.
Tickets are available at 11am on Tuesday 29 November at monafoma.net.au. Mona Foma is in Launceston from February 17-19 and Hobart from February 24-26 2023.
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