Iowa City Pedestrian Mall to Feature International Public Art Installation


The Iowa City Downtown District in partnership with the City of Iowa City & Think Iowa City will bring the international participatory public art installation, Loop to Downtown Iowa City’s pedestrian mall this summer starting July 9th. The installation that has traveled the world over the last four years will unveil new visuals and sounds for the first time in the United States at the Iowa City installation. The collection of twelve giant zoetropes will be located throughout the pedestrian mall delighting and inviting visitors to interact and play. 

The traveling installation was first displayed as part of the Luminothérapie at the Place des Festivals in the Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal in 2016 and comes to Iowa City this summer as a way to welcome visitors back to enjoy all Downtown Iowa City has to offer in the summer as festivals, events and businesses resume hours. “The Iowa City Downtown District for many years has been focusing efforts on supporting and advancing culture and placemaking experiences throughout the downtown area. After 2020’s impact on visitation and events, we knew that this summer would be a perfect opportunity to bring in a fully immersive experience that normally could only be enjoyed in large cities. We are thrilled that this art piece will be a significant backdrop to the many events happening throughout July and early August, fully anticipating it will attract thousands of visitors”, said Director of Creative Services, Betsy Potter.

The inspiration for this installation is the zoetrope, a toy from the 19th century, that produces the illusion of motion by displaying a series of drawings or photographs in progressive phases. The Loop takes that concept and creates animated fairy-tale loops using visuals that celebrate literature. In order to activate these cylinders, visitors must pump the lever to get the cylinder to spin. Once the cylinder is spinning, it will light up and play musical movies, where the speed of images and music is based on how fast the lever is moved. The visuals pairs 12 illustrators who were inspired by great Québécois literary works and  the experience is complemented by a new soundtrack for each zoetrope, inspired by the theme of the animation. “Visitors should take the time to enjoy all 12 elements of the piece to engage with the full experience during both the day and night,” said Potter.

This free installation is open to the public starting July 9th, providing the perfect activity for families and those of all ages to visit Downtown Iowa City this summer. To see LOOP for yourself, visit the the pedestrian mall from July 9- August 10th.

Not only will visitors be able to experience this phenomenon themselves, but the Iowa City Downtown District encourages everyone to share the spectacle on social media, by tagging and sharing on instagramfacebook and twitter.

Details on the installation & credits: 

  • The Loop opens-  July 9th – August 10th
  • Free

Creators: Olivier Girouard (Ekumen), Jonathan Villeneuve, Ottoblix
Owner: Quartier des spectacles Partnership
Tour producer: Creos

The 24 authors and illustrators involved include Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, whose La femme qui fuit is illustrated by Estelle Frenette-Vallières, Bondrée by Andrée A. Michaud illustrated by Urban9 and Tous des oiseaux by Wajdi Mouawad illustrated by Jacques Goldstyn. The children’s book Au-delà de la forêt, co-written by Nadine Robert and Gérard Dubois, is illustrated by Gérard Dubois, Émilie Turgeon’s novel Le silence est d’or is brought to the zoetrope by Pinabel, and Je suis un écrivain japonais by Dany Laferrière is illustrated by Mathieu Potvin. The late Gabrielle Roy is also featured, with her classic_ Bonheur d’occasion (The Tin Flute) illustrated by the talented Todd Stewart. Amélie Tourangeau made illustrations for _Six degrés de liberté by Nicolas Dickner, while Éléonore Goldberg’s drawings bring Catherine Mavrikakis’ novel Le ciel de Bay City to life. Joséphine Bacon’s poem Uiesh – Quelque part is rendered in visual form by Marie-Hélène Turcotte. Le facteur de l’espace by Guillaume Perreault is illustrated by Camille Pomerlo, and Fannie Cloutier by Stéphanie Lapointe is illustrated by Marianne Ferrer.