Open Air Media Festival: Two Nights of Outdoor Art In Iowa City

Pulling Plastic, an installation by Ellen Oliver, from Open Air 2023  (photo by Jason Smith)

The 5th annual Open Air Media Festival (OAMF), presented in collaboration with Public Space One, is back for its fifth year, bringing two nights of outdoor installations, performances, and video art to downtown Iowa City.

The artwork showcased in this year’s festival includes animation, AI, sculpture, augmented reality, sound, and projection mapping, and explores themes ranging from climate change to machine collaboration.

The festival schedule includes:

Friday May 31—8:30 p.m., FilmScene at Chauncey Swan Park (405 E. Washington). Film & video screening featuring 17 national artists with an opening live performance.

Saturday June 1—8:30-11 p.m., Public Space One Close House (538 S. Gilbert).
Performances, time-based projects, and media installations by 19 Iowa-based artists and the OAMF artist-in-residence.

The inaugural OAMF was created in the summer of 2020 during the pandemic as a way to give the public outdoor art experiences. The festival proved so popular that it has become a yearly Iowa City tradition. The 2024 festival is curated by Zen Cohen (director and founder), Dana Potter (program coordinator and graphic designer), Stephanie Demer, and Katina Bitsicas. They continue to find inspiring, challenging, and thought-provoking works and present larger-than-life art experiences.

Prairies and Antiquities, an earlier work by Katina Bitsicas

An addition to this year’s festival is a new site-specific project created by Katina Bitsicas during her artist residency. “Linseed and Gardens” is an archive-based projection-mapping project that illuminates the front of PS1’s Close House. It tells the story of the historic building from the past through the present-day archives it houses, using projected window vignettes and colorful landscapes. Bitsicas is a Greek-American artist who uses video, installation, AR, and performance to explore grief, loss, trauma, and memory.

Open Air is free and open to the public thanks to generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Iowa City Public Art Matching Grant Program, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.