Hello darkness my old friend: Dark Park 2016

The epicentre of Dark Park is either at the Winter Feast or at Dark Park (depending on your hunger levels). Dark Park takes over an abandoned industrial area near the port each year and features some of the festivals best exhibits. This year’s Dark Park expanded massively on last year’s efforts with a sprawling site filled with sights and sounds. Pointy towers of flame lit up the darkness intermittently, while a red neon rope pointed the way to the highlights.

The abandoned warehouses and factories that come alive during the festival really are the perfect place to hold such an event, they just fit right into the overall theme.I also loved the somewhat haphazard nature of the site. You felt like you could just do anything and nobody would bat an eyelid. There were no fences up around the fire barrels, no foam on top of bits of metal from the industrial sites, it was a stark contrast to our obsession with safety that you see at so many events these days. I read an article saying that it could only happen here in Hobart and that any other city would strip away everything in the pursuit of safety and good taste, that the whole meaning would be lost.

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Cameron Robbins Anemographs could easily have been missed by the casual observer. I was interested to lock the camera down and see what patterns were being created by the wind as the two devices span around in the breeze, the light at the end swaying around like a ship’s mast in a storm.
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Michaela Gleave’s FEAR EATS THE SOUL was a confronting sight upon first entering Dark Park. But then you stop and think about it, dwell on it for a bit and it’s actually quite reassuring. Nobody wants their soul eaten so the only solution is to fight your fears.
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Hat envy outside Labyrinth. “Look at her there, with her warm head and ears…bitch”…is probably not what this lady was thinking 🙂

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The light at the end of the tunnel. This room is what greets you when you find your way through the (really quite easy) maze of shipping containers of The Labyrinth. What you’re met with is a red perspex lined cage with a graffiti artist tagging the walls on the inside…..aaaaand that’s about it really. Hmmmmmm.
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This outer wall of The Labyrinth was a great focal point of Dark Park and every night a new canvas would appear as different artists were let loose on the facade.

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There didn’t seem to be any rules in place for who could do what so I guess it was a free for all, a battle of sorts if you will.

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The cosiest bar I’ve ever been in. It’s hard to see in this shot but there’s people huddled around a huge custom built fire tank/furnace thing there, sitting on thick wool lined boxes with numerous blankets at their disposal. Very cosy indeed and a great spot to just hang out and have a wee think about all the art and stuff.

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The Ogoh Ogoh, this year was inspired by the weedy Sea-Dragon and was to be the centrepiece of the shows finale. Visitors were enouraged to write down their darkest fears and either place it privately inside the belly of the beast or leave it out to be publicly pasted to the outside.

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We are in Australia after all so yeah….legit.

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The Ogoh Ogoh is part of Balinese Hinduism so it was nice to see the authenticity with these offerings of flowers and plants along the base of the statue.

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A giant room with a huge screen showing looping video footage of a distant rain storm as shot from the passenger seat of a car driving along the road. You’re damn right it was relaxing as f**k! 🙂
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The Cloud by Patrick Hall “Hundreds of illuminated faces hang overhead in bottles, and weep into a thin skim of water on the ground below”. Of course!

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One for the coders and computer nerds out there. Divination by Nancy Mauro-Flude consisted of a constant stream of data highlighting both the jolly old sea shanty pirates of lore as well as the modern equivalent of data and information piracy. The strangest part for me was the big round wedding tables for a dozen guests to sit around in the same room. Weirdest wedding reception ever.

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What the f….

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Ummm……

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The House of Mirrors by Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney was the most fun exhibit in Dark Park. Based loosely on designs by Gustav Castan in 1895 the space was a bewildering afront on the senses leaving you completely unaware of your position. Sure it was crowded and would have been even more fun to explore with smaller numbers of people but if you saw the queue to get in you’d understand.

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The seemingly fictional (a quick Google search revealed nothing) Edna May Clover was the ghost of the Hall of Mirrors and is supposed to make you feel safe while she herself is trapped.

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Reflecting on a lovely time at Dark Park……I’ll get my coat.

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The flame towers provided some much needed illumination and warmth in the darkness, albeit for a brief moment.

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Our Time by United Visual Artists felt like a giant CIA interrogation chamber with the banks of overhead lights swaying in unison while an eerie pulse echoed as they reached the height of their arc. At certain points the lights swayed as if you were on a giant vessel in the midst of a storm, again playing off on the overall theme this year of the Storm.

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It was fascinating to watch how people interacted with the exhibit. Some stood by in the darkened corners of the warehouse and observed. Others sat on benches to the sides while many dived straight in and placed themselves under the beams of light, following them as they swung.
Dark Mofo is a great feather in Hobart’s cap,  it’s wonderful that this small little city on this island at the edge of the world can put on such a spectacle of the obscure, a celebration of all things dark, an obsession with death that when the dust has settled, you realise….you’ve never felt so alive.

 

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