Dark Mofo announces 2023 dates and departure of festival director

Next year's edition of the festival will be the last with longstanding creative director Leigh Carmichael at its helm

The organisers of Hobart music and arts festival Dark Mofo have announced both the dates for its 2023 edition, as well as a major change in leadership.

When the winter festival takes place next year – between June 8 and 22 – it will be the final time it’s overseen by longstanding creative director Leigh Carmichael, who has stepped down from the position after nine years.

Carmichael, who has been in the role since Dark Mofo’s 2013 inception, said in a statement that he felt it was “time for new energy and new ideas to move the festival forward”, with a new artistic director set to be appointed for the festival’s 2024 edition onwards.

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“Dark Mofo occupies an important place in the Australian arts landscape, and I am confident that it will continue to provide opportunities for artists and audiences to experience challenging art in the darkest weeks of the year.”

Carmichael will be “devoting more time and energy” into his role as director of DarkLab, the creative agency which produces the festival each year, among other cultural developments, typically in Tasmania.

Dark Mofo began in 2013 as a winter offshoot of the MONA FOMA Festival, which is also held annually in Tasmania. Over the years, its bills have included the likes of FKA Twigs, St. Vincent, Thurston Moore, Dirty Three, Total Control, HTRK and many more. It has also regularly featured large scale light installations and other artworks, its winter feast, annual nude solstice swim and more.

After its 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dark Mofo returned the following year. The festival and Carmichael drew criticism for the commission of Spanish artist Santiago Sierra’s proposed work Union Flag, which would have seen a British flag soaked in the blood of First Nations people who donated it.

Carmichael initially defended the proposed work, emphasising that “self-expression is a fundamental human right”, but it was cancelled a short time later, with Carmichael citing the “community response” to the project. “We made a mistake, and take full responsibility,” he wrote in a statement, apologising to “all First Nations people for any hurt that has been caused”.

The following month, organisers announced a $60,000 seed fund for Tasmanian Aboriginal artists to develop proposals for future iterations of the festival, also announcing the appointment of two cultural advisors the festival’s 2021 edition.

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Last month, Dark Mofo and DarkLab announced a partnership with Melbourne First Nation festival YIRRAMBOI, titled kin. Together, the festivals will support the development of new works by local First Nations artists, to premiere at YIRRAMBOI and Dark Mofo next year.

The most recent Dark Mofo festival took place in June of this year, with a line-up that included the likes of Kim Gordon, Spiritualized, Chelsea Wolfe, The Kid LAROI and more. Both Deafheaven and Lingua Ignota were also on the bill, but were forced to cancel their appearances due to COVID-19.

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