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‘Welcome to Hell’: Angst over Aussie airport’s decision on controversial sign


Dark Mofo’s creative director says the decision to remove a “tongue-in-cheek” promotional sign from Hobart Airport is an “overreaction” and could signal the beginning of the end for the popular Tasmanian art, music and culture festival.

The provocative sign, which featured the words “WELCOME TO HELL” in red font, reportedly attracted a number of complaints after it was displayed on a wall near a baggage claim area.

It is understood to have lasted just one day before it was removed because it scared several children.

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Dark Mofo creative director Leigh Carmichael said he was “disappointed“ in the decision and argued it was an “overreaction”.

“It was clearly tongue in cheek and references one of the major events in this year’s festival, ‘A Divine Comedy’ by Austrian artist Florentina Holzinger,” Carmichael said.

A sign for Dark Mofo has been pulled from Hobart Airport. Credit: MatildaBoseley/Twitter

“There is obviously a lot of nervousness in the community about the festival after years of controversy, but this seems an overreaction.

“Our fear is that eventually we will be forced to water down our thematics to a point that the festival becomes bland, and no longer worth doing at all.”

A post on social media from someone who had spotted the sign at the airport described it as “not the best omen”.

A spokesperson for Hobart Airport said it had supported the festival for many years and would continue to do so, but had to act on this particular occasion.

“Every year we change our iconic ‘Welcome to Hobart’ sign above our terminal to fit in with the theme of Dark MoFo and will be doing so again this year, along with lighting up the airport in red once more,” they said.

“We are a family-friendly airport and want to make sure everyone can enjoy their visit, so we’re not showing one particular advertisement inside the terminal.”

Controversial past

It is not the first time Dark Mofo has courted controversy.

Contentious works have included the installation of giant inverted Christian crosses at Hobart’s waterfront, and organisers pulled the pin on plans to soak a British flag in the blood of Indigenous people.

Dark Mofo 2023 will run from June 8 to 22 and is returning to a full two-week program after several COVID-hit years.

A record 40,000 tickets were sold on the opening day of sales.

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Source: 7News