Young N.Y. Architecture Showcase, September 2009
By Alex Gartenfeld
Lewis Carrol’s nonsense poem, The Hunting of the Snark, recounts a quixotic search by misfits for a mythical beast. Such is the plight of artist Daniel Arsham and architect Alex Mustonen, who summarize their experience of “working between two practices and two worlds,” as “always a failure” – albeit a productive one. And in the best of situations, the differences between the two disciples simply disappear. The pairing’s collaboration began when Arsham – whose personal work has strong architectural overtones, and who has designed stage sets for choreography legend Merce Cunningham – was commissioned to outfit a changing room in the Dior Homme boutique in Los Angeles. The project incorporated plaster erosions that oozed from the wall onto a bench and a mirror, confusing the architecture’s appearance. “We try to find a way to reuse or misuse the existing architecture,” says Mustonen. But Snarkitecture’s practice also includes new buildings: their first is currently under construction in Miami, the headquarters for Legal Art, a non-profit organization providing artists with pro-bono representation. The building will include art studios and a communal space whose centerpiece, a ping-pong table puns on the back-and-forth nature of art’s imbrications of work and play.