Distant Cousins

Matthew Messner (website), Jeisler Salunga (website), Matthew Schneider (website)
University of Illinois at Chicago
Core Studio
Faculty: Grant Gibson (website)
Brief: A cemetery proposal for New Orleans


The goal of this studio is to design a place for the remains of the dead. A simple and direct, yet extremely conflicted request. In answering this charge, we will suggest new cultures by addressing the one reality that all those that have come before have met. How societies build for death varies and offers deep and solemn investigations into narrative, identity and form. We will earnestly deal with these topics with light and whimsical hearts. From children’s songs about over consumption to elaborately crafted suits that dance with joy to comical watercolors of organisms living deep inside each of us; we will devour aesthetics that embellish the very thing that our pragmatic program (a cemetery) lacks… life.

Distant cousins rely on the characteristics of familiarity and vagueness to garner affection from its participating audience. They are not only distant cousins to yourself, but also to each other, as their only tie to you is through an immediate family member and remain related to each other through the similar typologies. While on exhibition at the University of Illinois – Chicago’s Year End Show, guests were invited to write a message to loved ones, and to participate in the inscription of the individual.


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