missoula montana

30 December 2022

From Rapid City to Missoula

South Dakota gave way to Wyoming and Montana. Sparsely populated planes becoming parceled hills growing to looming mountains. Car rides as exercises in constraint. As the 9 1/2 hours to Missoula, Montana ticked down, a peaceful subsisted within uneventfulness. Or a peaceful absurdity (depending on your perspective). Setting ourselves the task of driving from Chicago to Portland in four days, thrilled and intimidated by the task. All to end up patrolled by rolling gates, cutting across flat lands, sharp hills, snow and dirt. Hewing us into the road and progression towards our destination.

Constraint is often embedded in creative practice. Constraint allows creativity to bloom through banishing possibilities. With the project Alice and I are working on with Issue Project Room, constraints are imposed by trying to creatively transform office spaces. These include zoning for particular uses, capacity limits, sound concerns, the desirability of using office spaces as performance arenas by building managers, real estate dynamics, etc. One potential path forward we have discussed is the office as fun house. How could we exaggerate the mundane? Turn the overflowing printer stack, the non-stop ringing phones, the low hum of office gossip into the performance itself?

We came to this thinking through a conversation with the director of Issues. His voice breaking into static as my phone signal cut out in South Dakota. Each important word dropped as the line struggled to maintain itself. We pulled over at a Native American gift shop and gas station and sat in the parking lot to ensure the clarity of the call. He noted the tension between “institution needs” and “diy desires,” urging us to maintain our curatorial vision while adapting to the unfolding circumstances surrounding access to office space. The tension within this project synecdoche for real estate politics. Should unused space be made into affordable housing, be given over to artistic use, or be upscaled for higher returns on investment? What role can individuals play in advocate a different form of urban development?

Soon enough, this headiness gave way to soft blue sky. Driving towards a horizon, the distinct blue hues stacked on top of each other: pale tears, rugged oceans, white ships cutting through, dark waves breaking everything apart, swallowing us into the untouched darkness of a long drive with few towns to break the monotony.

Arriving in Missoula, Montana around 10 on the 28th. Descending into the city surrounded by mountain. Creeping out to the local hipster pizza shop to find something to eat past 11. The graffiti inspired walls, the sticker crusted counter, drunk local 20-somethings swarming for a slice. Maybe a pizza shop isn’t too interesting. But when traveling, you always feel out of sorts in these types of places. You’ve wandered into someone else’s spot. Everything is new to you, but the usual to someone else. They note your ragged look, my clock your smell, the ways in which you are out of step. But, at the end of the day, they don’t care. They just want their pizza.

Some of Our Listening:

Yellow Swans - Going Places

Soul Glo - Diaspora Problems

Darkside - Psychic

Artificial Intelligence (compilation)

TrueAnon - Bush Did 9/11 (part 2)

The Knife - Silent Shout

Drake - Honestly, Nevermind