Mona Foma unleashes 17 days of mayhem: ‘If you can’t find something to do, then you’re dead’

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Mona Foma unleashes 17 days of mayhem: ‘If you can’t find something to do, then you’re dead’

Mona Foma
Words by Kosa Monteith

Mona Foma is back for 2024, and Tasmania’s biggest summer festival is set to be a heady cultural cocktail of old and new

A return of fan favourite events, international acts, local living legends and the Mona spirit of art and excess, alongside theatrical premieres, one-off global collaborations, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an increasing focus on sustainability and new multi-sensory works.

Spread across three weekends (15 February – 2 March), Mona Foma will again take over a network of cultural and communal spaces in Nipaluna / Hobart before going out with a bang in Launceston – a final free day of musical performance within the stunning surrounds of Cataract Gorge, headlined by icons TISM and Cash Savage and The Last Drinks.

Program highlights include:

  • Queens of The Stone Age return to Mona for their first ever gig on the museum’s lawns.
  • A free one-day concert at Launceston’s stunning Cataract Gorge featuring TISM, Cash Savage and The Last Drinks, Mulga Bore Hard Rock and FFLORA x Grace Chia.
  • Paul Kelly taking audiences on a live journey through his 2022 compilation: Time.
  • Courtney Barnett in collaboration with Australian drummer Stella Mozgawa.
  • Songwriter Darren Hanlon and percussion virtuoso Bree van Reyk join forces with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
  • Barcelona-based producer Filastine and Indonesian neo soul singer Nova deliver live music and a meditation on the climate crisis from the deck of a sailing ship.
  • Nigerian sound and installation artist Emeka Ogboh continues his global conversation on belonging with an immersive work revolving around gin in his first Australian commission.
  • The world premiere of artist Justin Shoulder’s ground-breaking performance work
  • French-Korean siblings and viral musical sensations Isaac et Nora (14 and 11 years old respectively) leading a family project with Latin-American songs learned by ear.
  • In his Australian debut, Taiwanese visual and performance artist Yahon Chang uses his body as an axis to create art on a vast floor canvas.
  • Wayfinder by Australia’s leading contemporary dance company Dancenorth featuring music by Hiatus Kaiyote and design from visual artist Hiromi Tango.
  • A weekend of Mona Sessions featuring international artists Mogwai (SCO), Lonnie Holley (USA), Irreversible Entanglements (USA), Holy Fuck (CAN), Shonen Knife (JAP), Wednesday (USA), Michael Rother + Friends play Neu! (GER) and Shruti Sessions (IND) alongside Australian artists, Little Ugly Girls, Kutcha Edwards and Australian Art Orchestra, Eleanor Jawurlngali Triad and Koi Kingdom.
  • The return of Mona Foma’s late-night crowd favourite Faux Mo, this time converting The Granada Tavern into an autonomous community; a sovereign state of party.

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

The incredible first lineup announcements

The first line-up announcements continue Mona’s tradition of drawing in the biggest international performers. Queens of the Stone Age, touring for the first time in six years, will headline the first weekend at Nipaluna / Hobart, and Mona Sessions will see performances by Scottish post-rock gods Mogwai, the soulful, textured sounds of Lonnie Holley (USA) and experimental free jazz by Irreversible Entanglements (USA). The line-up is also stacked with homegrown legends, including Paul Kelly, Courtney Barnett in collaboration with with Stella Mozgawa, Darren Hanlon with percussionist Bree van Reyk and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Kutcha Edwards, Mulga Bore Hard Rock as well as local DJs for events and parties scattered throughout the city.

Cross-cultural, boundary-pushing projects abound

Cross-cultural projects and boundary-pushing performances feature heavily, as always. Tasmania meets West Africa in a multi-sensory exploration of gin with Nigerian sound and installation artist, Emeka Ogboh. Arka Kinari sees Filastine (Barcelona) and Nova (Indonesia) give a multimedia performance upon a 70-tonne tall ship in resistance to the climate crisis. Shruti Sessions will fuse Hindustani, Rajasthani and Australian music and traditions together to create new compositions and forms of expression. Yahon Cheng from Taiwan will paint across a 20 x 15m canvas in Princes Wharf 1 with enormous brushes. Viral French-Korean sibling duo Isaac et Nora will perform Latin-American songs learned by ear. The festival will host the world premiere of Justin Shoulder’s ANITO, a solo performance melding art, theatre, dance, queer club culture and soundscapes, and Wayfinder, the new project from Australian dance company Dancenorth, will merge contemporary dance with music by Hiatus Kaiyote and visual design from Hiromi Tango.

Where there’s Mona Foma, we can always expect parties

2024 sees the return of Faux Mo to the Granada Tavern near Mona, a multi-day temporary community of celebration, creativity and joyous excess, while the new popup Street Eats @ Franko in Franklin Square will be a gathering place for revellers, with food, fun and DJs late into the night.

Brian Ritchie, Mona Foma’s Artistic Director, says the 16th iteration of the festival is set to be an ambitious and sprawling affair.

“Mona Foma wrangles over 500 performers and artists from places as far flung as Nigeria, Taiwan, Rajasthan and Launceston into a veritable orgy of creativity,” he says. “If you can’t find something to do, then you’re dead—but then you wouldn’t be reading this. So, buy tickets, except for TISM, which is free. One of the most reclusive bands (only three gigs in twenty years) for free in amongst the most unique water feature of any urban environment, qualifies as a once in a lifetime opportunity. Carpe diem.”

Tickets go on sale at 10am, Tuesday 21 November.