Justin Armstrong

Everywhere is Nowhere
Film & audio

Artist Statement

Everywhere Is Nowhere is the result of over 2 years of ethnographic fieldwork in the rural hinterlands of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Wyoming, and South Dakota. The images in the film describe the presence of absence that infects these places, the aura of ‘lives-once-lived’ that hovers in apparent emptiness. The audio portion of the piece is composed of various electronically processed field recordings and a narrative from Linda Whitney, the last person to live in Sanger, North Dakota, a town that now lies completely abandoned. This film seeks to unpack the human inscriptions on deserted space and excavate the hidden worlds that appear for an instant and then quietly vanish into the realm of spectral geographies. By juxtaposing images of people-less places with Whitney’s stories of deep inhabitation, this piece attempts to illuminate the invisible histories of North America’s ghost towns. Part ethnography, part half-remembered dream, Everywhere Is Nowhere asks how places live, fade and die in the absence of human agents.


Justin Armstrong holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. His work examines the ethnographic intersections of memory, materiality and place in isolated and abandoned settlements (ghost towns) throughout rural North America. Justin is also a sound artist and occasional filmmaker. His current research explores the unique cultural landscape of isolated and abandoned settlements throughout rural North America. For Armstrong, the study of culture is an ever-evolving and constantly engaging pursuit that finds beauty and significance in everyday lives and spaces. He currently teaches writing and anthropology in the Writing Program at Wellesley College. He was born in Saskatchewan, raised in Northern Ontario, and lives in Boston.