While in Alaska.

Place is a proposal. It is mythologized, theoretical, and circumscribed. It can propose a space for being in between. Multiplicities can continually propose revised frameworks for a place.


Through stories, through an accumulated and continually interpreted histories, presents and futures. Through layered networks of political and corporate collusion. A place is both learned through resistance and acted upon.


It is near impossible to attempt a distinction between center and periphery.


Through solidarity, through loss and longing, a place is active with energy and agency.


Place spoke to us about the past


about ritual


and even magic


I was invited to go to Alaska on a preliminary research trip with the Anchorage Museum. I attended the “Week of the Arctic” a series of public engagements through arctic Alaska organized by the Institute of the North.

The Flock House Project Omaha

Working on a long interview with Alex Priest about Flock House Omaha. Wanted to share this point early, along with this picture of one of the Flock Houses that was designed by 30 people and built by around 15 people. I’m amused re-reading my comment about fetishizing design. We used Alumilite panels located inside the Bemis building, flooring from Carver Bank and an old gym in Iowa, and hardware. The size of the Alumilite panels led us to resort to triangles to build with. We retained strength while being able to piece together materials.

Alex: We keep talking about designing a new Flock House for Omaha but what do you really mean by “design” and are Flock Houses even “designed”?

Mary: Well, in a way whenever we are making something we can’t get away from thinking about design. I’m not interested whatsoever in fetishizing design. In a modernist sense, I’m anti-design, anti gloss, anti anything that looks packaged. That said, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to transform materials into something unrecognizable from their original intention. As far as making Flock Houses for Omaha, their design is based on the materials we have, so that’s how we will begin. It’s still design by collaboration, but the materials become one of our collaborators. We have to take them into account and work with them from the very beginning. 
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March 13 – August 16, 2014

From their site: What if migratory homes with autonomous systems for rainwater collection and food production were the building blocks of the city of the future? Omaha residents will have an opportunity to consider just how our urban landscape might look in the decades to come when Mary Mattingly brings her Flock House Project to the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Inspired by patterns of global human migration and pilgrimage, the Flock House Project is a group of mobile, sculptural, public habitats and self-contained ecosystems that are movable, modular, and scalable. This multi-phase project is part fantastic and part practical. It kicks off in Omaha on March 13, 2014, with an exhibition of Mattingly’s previous work at the Bemis Center. Unlike traditional exhibitions, however, the display will serve as the artist’s active research hub while she is in residence at the Bemis Center, offering a space where she can engage the local community to develop plans for, and fabricate, new mobile living systems to be installed outdoors at both the Bemis Center in the Old Market and at Carver Bank in North Omaha. Omaha artists will then be invited to occupy these living systems in order to promote and implement a broader integration between Omaha’s creative and urban design communities.

At a time when urban populations are faced with environmental, political and economic instability, dislocation and relocation become increasingly important to consider and reconcile. Addressing these themes and concerns, Mattingly first presented three Flock Houses across New York City during the summer of 2012. Her intention is to choreograph Flock Houses throughout urban centers across the United States. By constructing them, she seeks to enhance community-based interdependence, resourcefulness, learning, curiosity and creative exploration. Interactive community programs, workshops, lectures, performances and narrated tours focusing on Omaha’s history, current surroundings and future opportunities will occur throughout the summer. By engaging in a direct dialogue with Omaha’s history of community and innovation, the Flock House Project will provide area residents and visitors with an opportunity to ponder the future of urban living.

Flock House Project: Omaha would not be possible without the active participation of community members. We would like to thank the following individuals, who volunteered their time and expertise during our Design/Build Workshops in May to create and install both the Old Market and Carver Bank Flock Houses:

Travis Apel: Artist/Organic Gardener/Builder; Dwayne Brown: Architect /Writer for Edible Omaha; Denise Chapman: Carver Bank Artist-in-Residence/Performer; Devel Crisp: Carver Bank Artist-in-Residence/Performer; Matt Cronin: Gardener/Community Activist; Tricia Custer: Video Production/Artist/Gardener; Angela Drakeford: Artist; Chance Frank: Artist/Gardener; Matt Freeman: Community Gardener; Cynthia Gehrie: Artist/Gardener
Neil Griess: Artist/Urban Activist; Catherine Harrington: Gardener/Builder/Cook; George Hewitt: Artist, Post Hurricane Katrina Rebuild Volunteer, Furniture; Dr. David J. Hibler, Sr.: Gardening, Community Activism; Maya Jeffereis: Bemis Center Artist-in-Residence/Installation/Sculpture/New Media/Performance; John Kerner: Architect/Artist; Jennifer Keys: Drawing/NAACP; Kim Reid Kuhn: Artist/Urban Activist/Teacher; Peter Langwith: Artist/Community Activist/Sustainable Living; Kayla Meyer: Landscape Architecture; Christina Narwicz: Artist/Gardener; Linn Norton: Art Education; Sarah O Donnell: Bemis Center Artist-in-Residence/Sculptor; Katie Parker: Bemis Center Artist-in-Residence/Sculptor; Dessi Price: Graphic Designer; Terri Sanders: Great Plains Black History Museum; Dr. Daniel Schober: Heath/Nutrition; Tyler Swain: Trash/Recycle Artist/Tinkerer/Construction; Travis Thieszen: Bemis Center Artist-in-Residence/Sculptor; Susan Thomas: Arts/Omaha Creative Institute; Liz Thrash: Gardener/Hobbiest

Travis and family


CAFKA Biennial

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Preparing for a Procession through Kitchener and Waterloo.

When: Saturday, June 21, 9PM – 12AM. Arrive at City Hall at 8pm.

Where: Begin at Kitchener City Hall and walk through King St. Regional Rt. 15 to Waterloo Public Square

How: Take as few or as many of your personal objects and bundle them together. We will each carry, roll, or otherwise transport this bundle with us along the route.

What: Seven people creating a procession with our bundled objects through Kitchener and Waterloo, from Kitchener City Hall through to Waterloo Public Square, passing malls and storage units.

The route of the procession narrates different rituals of production, consumption, and discard. We will bundle and strap objects to ourselves, carrying them with us, rolling or pushing them alongside of us through Kitchener’s main streets. We will pull our objects through sites that facilitate the consumption and storage of objects including: box stores, parking lots, and storage facilities, illustrating the absurdity of the performance, but maybe also the larger situation. Other sites like Waterloo Public Square and Kitchener City Hall are sites that illustrate local interconnection. The objects made, bought, and used affect everyone around the world, either directly or indirectly. It’s this interconnection that has led me to the procession. Considering every relationship that went into making these objects, can we care for an object’s life and death in a similar way to a human’s? What are the roles that these objects play in our lives and in the lives of others?