Fragrance | Scensorium

Installation detail "On Forgetting | Filling the Flask, Catherine Haley Epstein, photograph by Ann Ploeger.

Installation detail “On Forgetting | Filling the Flask, Catherine Haley Epstein, photograph by Ann Ploeger

***Thrilled to share this fragrance review by Luca Turin!*** Click here, or read below description.

On Forgetting | Filling the Flask

In 2010 I began creating artwork around the theme of Psyche’s journey where she encounters four seemingly impossible tasks, all in an effort to reunite with Eros. For the third task she is asked to fill a flask from the rushing waters of the River Styx. The river and waters have many meanings, one of which is the waters of forgetfulness. It is in this context that the idea was born to create fragrances, fill a flask, that would help to erase some of the nuisance and noise of the past to create clarity and room for living in the present.

The fragrances all carry the thread of the woods, and the use of a burn to alleviate the burdens of the past. As you move through the woods and get deeper, the forest becomes even mossier and more burn is required. The four fragrances are a journey where each is more warm than the previous, culminating with a giant bonfire of burnt seashells, amber fossils and cedar. Envisioned as a set that would be at the ready in any well equipped medicine chest, the fragrances resided as such over the course of the exhibition in an imaginary person’s medicine cabinet – the audience was encouraged to try on the fragrance which best suited their time for forgetting.

The four fragrances are:
Forget Last Night
Forget 5 Years Ago
Forget 10 Years Ago
Forget 20 Years Ago

The installation of “On Forgetting | Filling the Flask” was first at Pushdot Studios in Portland Oregon, and will be featured at the inaugural AIX Scent Fair at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in May 2016. I was introduced to the art of natural perfumery by Mandy Aftel, and have been studying independently since then. All of the fragrances I’ve created use luxurious, natural materials.

The fragrance samples are available for purchase, please contact me if interested.

*** Review by Luca Turin, on his blog “Perfumes I Love”:

I am always wary of programme art: Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring was composed in complete ignorance of its title, with Martha Graham merely asking for a piece “on an American theme”. Yet Copland got a lot of mail afterwards telling him how the piece nailed spring in the Appalachians. One thing is to give a piece or a perfume a brilliantly apt name after it is done, as in Lento or Angel, quite another is to produce one or more fragrances hanging on a concept. On this I am entirely withStravinsky who said “music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc.” Even truer for perfume, in my opinion.

This preamble is meant as a sort of apology for nearly overlooking four perfume samples from essayist and perfumer Catherine Haley Epstein that come from an installation at the Hammer Museum. They are titled Forget Last Night, Forget 5, 10 and 20 years ago. They came in the most awkward of all sample formats, small glass vials with a little plastic cork and no dipper. It is almost impossible to get the stuff out of the vials without getting it all over your hands. [Everybody please send sprays or, in the case of attars, those little roll-on bottles like a giant ballpoint pen]. In a nutshell, I was irritated by the fiddly samples, could not understand why the stuff represented forgetting things at different times, looked on the website and found no info, and I tossed the whole thing on the pile of samples I’d rather not talk about.

Then I walked around the house and smelled my hand. Damn, thought I, this smells good. Back to the samples, this time forgetting the Forgetting. These are all really nice fragrances, but the one that brought me back turned out to be Forget 5 Years Ago. I have no idea what happened five years ago in CHE’s life, and as I said above I doubt it had anything to do with the fragrance, but this thing smells really good, a rich, melancholy, powdery floral hovering between gardenia and tobacco. Definitely worth remembering.