Washington D.C. – In 2010 Arsham and Mustonen made scenography for modern dancers who improvised their movements around 10,000 ordinary white ping-pong balls that cascaded from the ceiling to bounce and roll randomly across the stage. More recently, the two choreographed an all-white architectural installation that abstracted a seashore under the gargantuan gilded Corinthian columns of the National Building Museum’s Great Hall.
Using ordinary construction materials like scaffolding, drywall and mirrors, they undammed a sea of 750,000 recyclable plastic spheres to produce a recreational experience that resembled a ball pit for adults. ‘This project had been floating around the studio for years in terms of the material and the idea of using a single-colour sphere. We wanted to flatten it out into a uniform tonality and create an environment with it,’ says Arsham.
The client for the largest project the studio had worked on to date was, ironically, a building museum also unversed in constructions of this scale. The not-for-profit organization helped the designers to build on a tight budget, however, by pulling in favours from board members (contractors), who donated labour to lower costs. Although designed for 40,000 visitors, The Beach accommodated almost five times that number.
‘It broke the museum’s record for attendance and took a lot of wear,’ says Arsham. ‘People around the world reached out to us about bringing the project to their locations.’ This year, therefore, a ‘new and improved version’ of The Beach will go on tour. ‘We can build on what we learned. It’s a challenge to construct something that can travel to different venues.’
This piece was originally featured in Happening 2. You can purchase a copy here.