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May 7, 2020 Repository 228: Elephants and Smelly Art Posted In: contemporary art, culture, olfactory art, perspective

I am honored to be a panelist on today’s Digital Scent Festival Panel on Scent + Art + Design. While the topic is humungous and seriously multi-faceted, it’s terrific to have this dialogue with a broader audience.

Here is a resource list to help the curious get started on a pilgrimage to discover materials and practices. Thankfully some have vibrant online presences:

A Library of Olfactive Material, Glasgow Scotland
Aroma Workshop, Chicago
Aftel Archive of Curious Scents, Berkeley, CA
Experimental Perfume Club, London
Institute of Art & Olfaction, Los Angeles, CA
Mediamatic – Odorama, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Museum of Food and Drink, Brooklyn, NY
Olfactive Studio, Sao Paolo, Brazil
Osmothèque, Versailles, France (archive and perfume history)
Smell Lab, Berlin
St. Croix Sensory Inc. (how scent is disseminated)
Zapah Lab (itinerant)

Also, below is an example of what I mentioned is like grabbing the elephant’s tail – internet information is biased and not a whole picture. Really stay vigilant when doing your research. A google search yielded the below first result for “olfactory artist” in wikipedia. Below that, I share a non-exhaustive list (it can go on and on), of artists who have incorporated scent in a project or their practice overall. Totally different right?

“OLFACTORY ARTIST” LIST ON WIKIPEDIA – retrieved May 5, 2015
Guy Bleus
Peter de Cupere
Wolfgang Georgsdorf
Azzi Glasser
Brian Goeltzenleuchter
Christophe Laudamiel
Annick Ménardo
Gayil Nalls
Sissel Tolaas
Maki Ueda
Clara Ursitti

RANDOM ASSORTED LIST OF SMELLY ART PRACTITIONERS FROM MY BRAIN IN NO SPECIAL ORDER AND LEAVING OUT MANY (not intentional, this is just an exercise to illustrate the nascent, muddy study of “olfactory” art):

Sadakichi Hartmann
Mark Lewis
Edward Kienholz
Mariko Mori
Lee Bul
Robert Houle
Olivia Alice Clement
Giuseppe Penone
John Waters
Boris Reaux
Lisa Kirk
Kate McLean
Piero Manzoni
Jannis Kounellis
Klara Rabat
Nobi Shioya
Ernesto Neto
Helgard Haug
Anicka Yi
Adrian Piper
Karla Black
Angela Ellsworth
Geza Schoen 
Nadjib Achaibou
Grace Boyle
Paul Schütze
Martynka Wawrzyniak/Yann Vasnier
Elodie Pong/Roman Kaiser
Oswaldo Macia
Josely Carvalho
Wolfgang Laib
Cat Jones
Gayil Nalls
Miriam Simun
Jorge Otero-Pailos
Amy Radcliff
Olifur Oliason
Chia-Hsien Lin
Laura De Coninck
Paolo Salvagione
Clara Muller
Walter de Maria
Jenny Holzer/Helmut Lang
Naomi London
Guy Bleus
Peter de Cupere
Wolfgang Georgsdorf
Azzi Glasser
Brian Goeltzenleuchter
Christophe Laudamiel
Annick Ménardo
Sissel Tolaas
Maki Ueda
Clara Ursitti

Last bit is a terrific piece of press for the Digital Scent Festival published yesterday on WWD. A big thank you to Yosh and Aroma Village (and all participants!) for broadening the scope and dialogue of scent art!! Many thanks!!

Indie Fragrance Heads Online for Digital Scent FestivalYosh Han of Eau de Yosh collaborated with Aroma Village for a digital-native category deep-dive.
By James Manso on May 5, 2020

Eau De Yosh’s Yosh Han is bringing independent fragrance and olfaction to the digital sphere. In partnership with Aroma Village, Han has orchestrated the six-week Digital Scent Festival, incorporating biweekly panels on scent and food, art, design and music.


The festival, which is taking place through May 31 on Zoom and Instagram Live, is free for attendees. Donations of either $5 or $30 are optional. Making the festival for consumers and perfumers was key for Han, who recognized mass unemployment as a result of the coronavirus.
According to Han, being able to incorporate the experience of scent would have been a plus, but isn’t necessary for the theory-based discussions. The festival is bringing together an assortment of independent perfumers for discussions on the future of the category. Han also said that many independent perfumers in her network have expertise in various areas (Han herself is a sommelier), diversifying the touch points of the discussions.

“These stories are not often told because they’re not financially successful, but you get to intellectualize scent and music, scent and food,” Han said. “There are so many intersections, and when you have time to listen to these stories and take commerce out of the conversation momentarily, you can feel the energy.”

The focus of the festival isn’t just on the applications of fragrance. One of the Zoom panels, for example, is called “Indie to Industry,” offering perfumers insights on how to properly scale their businesses. Han also wants to shed light on how indie perfumers inform industry-wide trends, often without credit.


“It’s important to give the mic to a different stage,” Han said. “All the young kids love indie brands because they’re relatable. But for these artists, sometimes they don’t have the business-savvy or the connections. If the big retailers want to capture Millennials and Generation Z, you need to give the mic over to the indie artists the kids resonate with. Nobody wants to smell like a celebrity.”


Aside from rethinking business scale, Han wants the festival to provide an opportunity to rethink category-wide practices, most notably with retail. “Nobody wants to be attacked at the retail counter and be too bombarded by too many smells. That’s not an ideal way to understand an artistic narrative. When you go to an art gallery, you don’t have people pushing paintings in your face,” she said. “The corporate team isn’t asking the perfumers what we think, but we have ideas about how retail should be experienced for the consumer. Brands want something unique and different, and this festival lets our work have a platform.”

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IF YOU ARE STILL READING – WOO HOO!!!!!! Discount code on my website to buy a copy of Nose Dive. Thank you!!! Code: DSF2020

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