New tour and augmented reality app explore Ana Mendieta’s Iowa City

Dazzle Crawl

starts at 287 N Linn St — Friday, April 27 at 5 p.m.

A shot of the new app Augmented Ana. — photo courtesy of Friends of Ana Mendieta

Artist Ana Mendieta came to Dubuque in 1961 at age 12 as a refugee from Cuba. She discovered her love of art there, navigating junior high school with limited other means of expression (her English was not yet good). But it was in Iowa City where her signature brand of bloody, violent and boldly feminist artwork was honed. She earned both a BA and an MA in painting as well as an MFA in intermedia at the University of Iowa, studying under Hans Breder, intermedia program founder who passed away last year.

Mendieta moved to New York City after her time at UI, but some of her most fascinating and acclaimed work, including “Tree of Life” and “Body Tracks,” was created in Iowa City. Her death, amid a swirl of controversy at the young age of 36, combined with her work has raised her to the status of cultural icon. She was awarded a posthumus lifetime achievement award in 2009 by the Cintas Foundation, and has been the subject of symposiums and research over the years by fellow artists exploring her life, death and legacy. For a time, the University of Iowa offered a scholarship in her name.

Now one of the recipients of that scholarship, Adam Burke, is part of an effort to make the spots in Iowa City significant to Mendieta’s legacy more accessible to fans and scholars. The Friends of Ana Mendieta (FoAM), a group of devotees that includes Burke, John Englebrecht and David Dunlap, is scheduling tours of locations connected to Mendieta, including add-on reenactments.

“We want to bring her art to the world,” Burke said in a press release. “Ana grew up here, she found her voice here, and she’s buried here too. Ana Mendieta es aquí.”

The project includes an augmented reality app, designed by Burke, that is available for download on the FoAM website. The free app will allow users to experience an augmented reality version of Mendieta’s “Body Tracks” performance, one of the reenactment add-ons available with the tour.

Burke said in an email that FoAM is using the Dazzle Crawl, a co-production of Hancher and Public Space One, as a “launching pad” for their effort. The Dazzle Crawl is hosted by artist Machine Dazzle, costume designer for Taylor Mac, who performs at Hancher on Saturday, April 28. His work is currently on exhibit in the Hancher lobby.

The crawl starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 27, at 287 N Linn St, and tours 11 downtown Iowa City locations, many with short performances or presentations as well as exhibits. Participants are encouraged to get into the spirit by arriving decked out in their most dazzling attire or stopping by Public Space One between 4:30 and 4:45 p.m. prior to the crawl to borrow costumes and decoration. FoAM can be seen at stop nine, at Sculpt (105 E College St). The crawl is expected to reach there at about 6:25 p.m.

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