Words Arianne James
Photo Credit: Mona/Rémi Chauvin
Image Courtesy Mona, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
A playground for adults. This was my first thought as I stepped under the sandstone alcove into Faux Mo, the official MONA FOMA after party.
The celebration of music and art took place inside the old Government Offices in Murray Street. Multi-coloured lights flashed in every direction. The beats of music from multiple stages and DJs erupted to complete the dynamic, pulsing scene before me. There was even a cubby dance house made to look like a sparkling igloo with an icicle chandelier on the roof.
The whole building was alight with glow in the dark paint swirled into every corner; every forgotten corridor. I stumbled across rooms with video recordings of artwork and short, strange films. There was a room – an abandoned office filled with negatives of places in Chicago, United States. I paused my exploration to look closely at the images and the writing that accompanied them as groups of animated partiers flew past. They were beautiful and eerie and spoke of another world and another time. ‘Don’t forget us!’ They screamed. ‘We were here. We still are.’
I discovered four main levels with little subsections and corridors on each, however I would not be surprised if someone told me there were more hidden passageways. When alone in some of the more obviously abandoned places, I became a little creeped out. The music, muted slightly in the background, amplified the desolate loneliness of a ripped office chair facing the wrong way around from its desk. But there was a beauty to this emptiness. I saw it in the patterns the strobe lights made on the furniture; in the stray festival goers who swayed past, laughing, to explore the delights of the art.
The main stage was outside in a narrow alleyway. Forty minutes in, and the area was packed. The singer leant towards the audience, inviting them to join him in the joy of his eclectic rhythm. The music was loud but not without tune, and I enjoyed the hope it gave to the crowd. The message I saw as I watched was this: ‘These are dark times but we will not turn dark with them’. It felt almost like a musical protest and the crowd loved it. Even from my position on the rooftop, the collective effervescence from below was intoxicating. It made me want to throw down my camera and dance; to join the crowd of strangers and, for a moment, become part of this fantasy jungle of light and sound and swaying limbs.
On every floor was a bar, as well as numerous water stations. I was grateful for these, as the smoke machines dehydrated the air. A final highlight was the blue lights that moved up and down in waves on one floor; which, combined with the smoke and the music and the glowing paint, created a sensation I imagine was not too dissimilar to how Alice would have felt as she fell down the rabbit hole.
I enjoyed Faux Mo immensely and was impressed by the diversity of performers and artworks. Next year, I plan to get a group of friends together and experience this event as a participant instead of an observer.