James Tapscott, the Melbourne-based Land & Light artist, is taking part in Hobart’s Winter MOFO festival this June, along with over 100 artists and a music lineup that includes Laurie Anderson, Tim Minchin and St Vincent.
Tapscott’s spectacular installation, VIVISECTION, will be included in the NIGHT MASS section of the festival which includes artworks, performances, cocktail lounges, clubs and liturgical raves, tucked away in a sprawling nocturnal neighbourhood that includes the Bang Bang Bar, old Tattersalls Hotel, Odeon Theatre, Grand Poobah, Cinema One and selected laneways.
The two annual MOFO festivals are hosted by The Museum of Old and New Art, which opened in Hobart in 2011 based on the collection of multimillionaire David Walsh. Temporary exhibitions have included Marina Abramović, Gilbert & George and many other international contemporary artists.
VIVISECTION will be a site-specific sister of James Tapscott’s ARC ZERO NIMBUS, which attracted the world’s attention in 2017 as it hovered silently over a forest bridge at the Japan Alps Festival. Now, trapped in the dark backstreets of Hobart’s winter, two illuminated misty arcs leap over alleyways to intersect the corner of a multi-story car park. Like live creatures, the arches appear to escape their earthbound setting. The alleys are heavy with dirt, smeared with graffiti and they glint with puddles of stagnant water. Tapscott’s poetic lines of mist and light bring grace to the city’s most prosaic corners, freshening the air as they dissolve back to nature.
The award-winning James Tapscott is the founder-director of the Globelight Festival in Melbourne, and has exhibited in galleries and sculpture parks in Italy, Slovakia, Austria and California, in addition to his native Australia. Born in Melbourne in 1980, he studied Painting at Curtin University in Perth in the late 1990s.
Tapscott’s works is often concerned with the ‘genius loci’, capturing fleeting narratives that emerge at the littoral edge where land meets water and water meets light.
“I don’t like to impose my will on a place,” said Tapscott. “Beginning a project with a soft set of parameters allows for real magic to happen”. During the event there will be fire barrels and minimal site lighting, while the mist blankets the sky. ”It will create a primal and eerie disconnection from reality, which, for me, sums up the overall experience of Dark MOFO,” said the artist.
To install this work, Tapscott had to create two vastly different arcs, one with a radius of almost double the other. The viewer experiences the ‘feel’ of the overall work intensely; the air quality, smell, temperature and a light mist settling on the face – but there are only a few locations from which the entire work can be seen.
This year’s DARK MOFO festival has attracted controversy for mounting four 20m tall inverted crosses, which Walsh has vigorously defended, saying St Peter was crucified upside down at his own request.