Billingsgate was an installation piece commissioned by the city of Billings, Montana in 1982, on the occasion of their centennial celebrations. Upon an invitation from the Yellowstone Art Center, Allen visited Billings to conceptualize the project, and requested “a room and a car and to be left alone.” He proceeded to roam the town, taking copious notes of his observations, details he would later use for the basis of a story.
He structured the piece on the motel room where he stayed, creating an exact reproduction of his accommodations, delineating the space with exposed-frame walls. Each piece of furniture was reduced to basic, hollow forms, that he filled with dirt and concealed with a piece of glass. He then placed framed pictures of the original space, along with other various objects, throughout the installation.
Texts from the corresponding story were hung along the outside walls around the perimeter. “The viewers could read the text and look inside at the viewers in the motel looking out,” described Allen. “Which created a kind of paranoid voyeurism for both.”