In 1889, my maternal ancestors immigrated to Iowa and made it their home. One hundred years later, I would too. A land of rolling hills, green pastures, streams, rivers, and lakes. Their decision to settle in Iowa seemed obvious. Water.
As a native Nebraskan, I always coveted and feared water. It was present, but often hidden; not seen until mechanically pumped to the surface or when the ground became so saturated it emerged from below. Now, in Iowa, there were threats from water I could see. I moved to the state in 2012 and the flood of 2008 was still etched into the landscape; buildings, like skeletons, were left in its wake.
DOWNRIVER animates those skeletons. It is an invented rite of passage performed and filmed along the Iowa River. The ceremony is concerned with duality: past and present, nurture and destroy, labor and lethargy. It engages with the very human desire to control the uncontrollable.
DOWNRIVER was created while in residence at the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art in Iowa City, Iowa in 2019.
Director: Heidi Wiren Bartlett
Director of Photography: Benjamin Handler
Composer: Jennifer Masada
Choreographer: Melinda Jean Myers
Melinda Jean Myers