116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — You thought Halloween was over.
Think again. Now is the time to explore the unknown as the Witching Hour festival returns to Iowa City, live and in person, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5 and 6, 2021.
This two-day, immersive art and community experience features conversations, readings, and performances from independent artists.
Centerpiece is the premiere of “Moebius Strips,” an interactive sound sculpture created by Tim Story, to honor the legacy of Dieter Moebius, a pioneer of German electronic music, who died in 2015.
The collaboration includes unheard musical loops from his repertoire, as well as contributions from Geoff Barrow, Sarah Davachi, Jean-Benoit Dunckel, Eve Maret, Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo), Phew, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Michael Rother and Yuri Suzuki.
The installation will premiere on the Englert stage before traveling to museums and galleries across the globe.
“By smudging what constitutes beginnings and endings, along with preconceptions about authorship, Moebius Strips is — just like Moebi was — many things at once,” Brian Coney wrote in a review for Pitchfork magazine. “It feels here and there, past and present, his and theirs. Ours, too. With a confidant like Story at the helm, it honors the legacy of a friend and pioneer whose enviable status as the godfather of electronic krautrock is beginning to feel like a case of underselling.”
Continuing the interactive theme, electronic musician Eve Maret will lead Moebius-inspired Moog workshops from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Chauncey, 404 E. College St. Participants will get to collaborate with Dieter Moebius recordings while learning to navigate Moog's Mother-32 and DFAM synthesizers. An emphasis on joyful expression will make this project accessible to people of all experience levels.
Independent spaces is another festival touchpoint. Two separate panels will lead the conversations, including local representatives from The Black Liberation Space, Public Space One, and the electronic music collective Femme Decks.
Presented by the Englert Theatre and Little Village in Iowa City, in partnership with Curious Music in Coralville, organizers said the festival “provides a channel for artists, arts workers and curious minds to unravel the subtext of who we are and an opportunity to design who we might become.”
The event also provides a platform for Iowa-based creative minds and thinkers. This year, more than half of the artists performing at the festival are from Iowa.
“Moebius Strips” installation: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St. In this exhibit, you create the musical masterpiece by physically moving between musical loops positioned across the stage. Also, 8 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Reflections on “Moebius Strips”: 5 to 6 p.m. Friday, University of Iowa Main Library Gallery, 125 W. Washington St. Conversation with Grammy-nominated composer and sound artist Tim Story and Lauren Lessing, art historian and director of the UI Stanley Museum of Art. Story and Lessing will discuss the creative process and the roles that collaboration, innovation and storytelling play therein.
Poetry In Motion: 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center, 28 S. Linn St. This live show features top spoken word performers sharing their work with the accompaniment of the Gerard Estella band. The event will speak to anyone who appreciates poetry, music, and performance. Hosted by Caleb "The Negro Artist" Rainey, the lineup includes Larry Moore, Heather “Byrd” Roberts, Laura Johnson, Jocelyn Rifas, David Duer, Ever Taylor and Kelsey Bigelow. Witching Hour passholders will receive complementary access to this event.
Eve Maret: 9 to 9:45 p.m. Friday, Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St. This Nashville-based experimental artist and composer employs a wide array of electronic media and techniques in her various disciplines, exploring personal and communal healing through creative action.
FemmeDecks Presents DIE/ASPORA & Liara Kaylee Tsai: 10 to 11:59 p.m. Friday, Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St. Femme Decks is an electronic music collective aiming to empower women, people of color and trans and nonbinary folx, to engage in safe and inclusive environments, and to build connections between marginalized artists. DIE/ASPORA, aka Cristian Ybarra, is a queer, Afro-Chicanx DJ based out of Minneapolis with a specialty for techno, house, dark wave and EBM. Liara Kaylee Tsai is an Iowa City-based electro/techno DJ known for utilizing broken beats and acid lines. She has been performing since 2021, starting in Tucson, Ariz., then moving to Madison, Wis., and New York before moving to Iowa City this year to perform with FemmeDecks.
Lessons & Visions on Independent Space, Part 1: 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, FilmScene at The Chauncey, Theatre 1, 404 E. College St., Suite 100. The first of two panel discussions, this one will center around radical community building and space-making among artists and community members. Featuring Nate Marshall, award-winning Chicago author and educator, along with Elinor Levin and Eric Harris, community leaders and members of the South District Neighborhood Association in Iowa City.
Lessons & Visions on Independent Space, Part 2: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, FilmScene at The Chauncey, Theatre 1, 404 E. College St., Suite 100. Andre Perry will moderate this look at the ways independent cultural spaces can support and enact intersectional justice work. Featuring Kalmia Strong and John Engelbrecht of Public Space One, along with Angelia Mahaney, Andres Mora and Christian Ybarra from the Femme Decks electronic music collective.
Moebius Strips Launch Event: 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St. Tim Story will talk with renowned artists across the global electronic scene.
Moebius Strips Video Tour: Ongoing from 3:30 p.m. Saturday, online. Tim Story and local musician Elly Hofmaier will virtually walk viewers through the exhibit; streamed on the Englert’s YouTube page.
Writers of Color Reading Series: 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Merge, 136 S. Dubuque St. Live readings featuring Nate Marshall, Tasha and several local writers. Created by authors T. Geronimo Johnson and Andre Perry in 2015, the series offers a dedicated presentation space in Iowa City for local Black, Indigenous and other writers of color who are undergraduates, MFAs, or long-term residents. The series returns to Witching Hour in collaboration with Drue Denmon, a second-year fiction writer at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Tasha: 9 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St. Tasha is returning to Iowa City after performing for Mission Creek Summer Sessions in September. Her second album, “Tell Me What You Miss The Most,” captures the Witching Hour mission, mingling introspection with marveling at what’s yet to come. Born and raised in Chicago, she writes songs that take loving and longing seriously. Whether dwelling in the sad thrum of an impending breakup or the heart-thumping waltz of new infatuation, her latest album traces one artist’s relationship to herself in love.
Lala Lala: 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St. Singer/songwriter Lillie West leads this introspective and noisy Chicago-based indie rock project. The group rose from playing basements in the underground D.I.Y. scene to signing with Sub Pop imprint Hardly Art for its 2018 sophomore album, “The Lamb.” Bolder surfaces emerged on 2021’s “I Want the Door to Open.”
Admission and accessibility: Weekend passes are $25 general admission and $15 for students; choose your price for festivalgoers with budgets outside of the standard pass prices.
ASL interpreters will be present at most events. For shows including interpretation, go to witchinghourfestival.com/2021-schedule
Festival details: witchinghourfestival.com