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Asian monsters set to cleanse winter wonderland

June 13, 2015 Attraction No Comments Print Print Email Email

Awe-inspiring demon-like sculptures will take to the streets in Hobart as part of the Museum of Old and New Art’s iconic Dark Mofo winter festival this month.

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Ogoh-ogoh Barong Bangkal, King of the Boars

These monsters, called ogoh-ogoh, are large and colourful creations traditionally paraded through Balinese villages before being burned in a cleansing ritual that restores the natural balance between the ‘seen’ and ‘unseen’ worlds of Balinese Hinduism at the start of the new year. This year they have come to Hobart for the Winter Solstice.

The University of Tasmania has commissioned three Balinese artists (Ida Bagus Oka, Ida Bagus Antara and Komang Sedana Putra) to create two traditional guardian monsters to be brought to Hobart as part of the ogoh-ogoh project for Dark Mofo.

Now in residence at the Tasmanian College of the Arts (TCotA), the artists are creating Tasmania’s own ogoh-ogoh, assisted by local artist Tristan Stowards and volunteer TCotA students. Once finished, the Tassie ogoh-ogoh will join its Balinese companions at Dark Mofo’s new festival precinct, Dark Park at Macquarie Point, from Friday 12 June.

The Tasmanian community has been invited to visit the ogoh-ogoh at Dark Park, and in a Tasmanian twist on this Balinese ritual, as part of the ‘Purging’ ceremonycan write down their fears, worries and darkest thoughts, to be placed inside the Tasmanian ogoh-ogoh.

In the early evening on Sunday 21 June, all three ogoh-ogoh will lead the longest night’s procession from Dark Park over to the City of Hobart Dark Mofo Winter Feast site at Princes Wharf for the ‘Burning’, where the Tasmanian ogoh-ogoh will be burned on a ceremonial pyre. Dancers will weave through the procession and choral performers from the upcoming Festival of Voices will add vocal magic.

Dr Kaz Ross, lecturer in Asian Studies at the University, said that the project is aimed at increasing awareness of Asian cultures and highlights the importance of engagement with Asia.

“This project is important because it shows that people jump at the chance to learn about Asia and participate in Asia related activities. Putting a Tasmanian twist to this Indonesian tradition is a great way of demonstrating the value of cultural collaboration.”

Three Indonesian artists have come to Tasmania for the event: Ida Bagus Oka, Ida Bagus Antara and Komang Sedana Putra.

The procession leading to the Burning ceremony (Sunday 21 June) is an opportunity for the local community to help cleanse Tasmania by either helping to carry a monster or by taking part in the noisy procession.

Cas Charles, an expert on ogoh-ogoh, says that traditionally the monsters were made with wire, bamboo and papier-mache but here in Hobart, anything goes.

“Monsters made of boxes, cardboard, and masks, as well as ready-made monsters, are all welcome in the procession. And we need people to bring horns, whistles, posts and pans – the more noise the better – we need to attract Tasmania’s bad energies to the ogoh-ogoh for the burning. Come and join the monster squad,” she said.

The ogoh-ogoh project is supported by the University’s 125 Anniversary, the Museum of Old and New Art, the Asia Institute Tasmania and Katama Global. 

For more information on the project, please visit: http://www.utas.edu.au/arts/ogoh-ogoh-at-dark-mofo

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