There is no single word in the English language exclusively devoted to the description of a scent. When trying to define a smell, one is always compelled to the use of synesthesia, borrowing terms commonly used to describe other senses and affects. Far from trying to describe scent, this exhibition proposes smell as a language with which to address a series of socio-political issues.
In 1992, artist Clara Ursitti collected her vaginal and menstrual secretions and secured them in a solution of alcohol and coconut oil. The result was Eau Claire, an organically produced perfume that, rather than masking human smells, pays homage to the bodies own odours and pheromones beyond any artificially created fragrance.
John Thomson and Alison Craighead’s complex fragrance Apocalypse (2016) is based on olfactory materials detailed in The Book Of Revelation as it appears in the King James Bible first published in 1611. Collaborating with perfumer Euan McCall they developed a scent based depiction of the biblical end. The perfume is presented in a box with a label designed by Steve Carroll, and the lining of each box is sprayed with a secondary scent intended to recall decay.
Following his interest in the language of corporate systems and the use of financial data, Fabio Lattanzi Antinori’s work Flashcrash. A perfume (2017) is an attempt at providing a bridge between the invisible fast digital domain of high frequency machine trading and the physical level of reality. On 6th May 2010, the largest flashcrash to date hit the US market, burning a trillion dollars in minutes. Housed under a glass dome, the scent is the result of applying data from the flashcrash to the gas chromatography process used extensively in forensic science to find criminal evidence. Here, the ethereal quality of the scent itself echoes the volatility of these financial anomalies.
littlewhitehead’s work He’s a liquid (2017) is the combination of designer male fragrances with water in a perspex case. Signature fragrances are essences: ethereal illustrations of the brand’s notion of idealised masculinity. When mixed with water, the liquid clouds, resembling milk or semen. This milky haze resembles the brewing of something sinister, like special effects from old horror movies, the liquidﬁcation of some undefined being. When mixed the individual scents become indistinguishable, male essences mixing to create an odour of artificiality as opposed to something that defines a particular gender or identity.
Kentaro Yamada’s Neandertal Parfume (2015) is inspired by the history of Neanderthals and the possibility of an alternative reading, one in which Neanderthals continued to survive into the present day. Collaborating with a perfume designer to create a scent based on the elements and materials found in sites inhabited by Neanderthals, the work questions human centricity while recognising Neanderthals’ sophisticated attributes.
Thomson & Craighead have shown extensively at galleries, film festivals and for site-specific commissions in the UK and internationally. Solo shows include The Academy of Saturn, Cooley Gallery, Portland, Oregon (2018); Wake me up when it’s over, Young Projects Gallery, Los Angeles (2017); Party Booby Trap, Carroll/Fletcher, London (2016); Maps DNA and Spam, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, UK (2014). Recent group exhibitions include I Was Raised On The Internet, MCA, Chicago (2018); Perpetual Uncertainty, Z33, Hasselt, Belgium (2017); Electronic Superhighway, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2016); Big Bang Data, Somerset House, London, UK; Art In The Age Of…Asymmetrical Warfare, Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands; and How to Construct a Time Machine, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK (all 2015). They live and work between London and the Scottish Highlands.
Fabio Lattanzi Antinori, born in Rome, earned his MFA in Arts and Computational Technologies from Goldsmiths, London, in 2013. Previous to that, he studied at Central Saint Martins, London, and CCA, Rome, from which he graduated with his first MA. Antinori was selected for the PS1 Summer School, New York, in 2012 to study with Marina Abramović, and has recently participated in the Kaunas Biennial, Lithuania (2015). Recent exhibitions include solo shows with East London Printmakers, London (2015), and Dream Home, Arebyte Gallery, London (2015), Brun Fine Art (2016), The MoCA Shanghai Pavilion (2016), while group exhibitions include The Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Arts (2016), Production Methods, Watermans Arts Centre, London (2015), Heaven Is A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens, Pi Artworks, London (2015), The Florence Trust Summer Show, The Florence Trust, London (2015), Digital Weekend, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2014), and Au, Beers.Lambert Contemporary, London (2013). Antinori lives and works in London.
littlewhitehead (b.1980 and 1985) are a duo comprised of Craig Little and Blake Whitehead. Both artists live and work in Glasgow (Scotland). They graduated from the Glasgow School of Art and have subsequently been exhibited widely internationally. A selection of recent exhibitions include “Nothing Comes to Mind”, Concordia; “Inner Refuge”, Linden Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; “Unfinished Business”, Marine Contemporary, Marine Contemporary, “Modern British Sculpture”, Gimpel Fils, London; “Newspeak: British Art Now”, Saatchi Gallery, London; “The Weak Sex”, Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern; “Kulturhuset”, Stockholm; and “Bloomberg New Contemporaries”, London
Clara Ursitti, born in Canada, lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. Clara Ursitti has been working with fragrance since the early 1990s to create pungent installations that delve into the social and psychological aspects of scent. She is interested in non-verbal (chemical) communication and memory. Ursitti has exhibited widely and was commissioned by The Collective Gallery, Edinburgh to present a major new work as part of the Edinburgh Festival of Art, 2017. Recent exhibitions include Hole in the Sky, The Modern Institute, Airds Lane, Glasgow, 2018; Splitsville Smells Like Irises, Tiger Strieks Astroid, New York; What’s Love Got to Do With It? Art-Cade Gallery, Marseille, France as part of Printemps Art Contemporain Festival 2018 and Sex Smells at the Kunstverein, Wolfsburg, Germany, 2016. Her work was recently included in the survey exhibitions: Belle Haleine, Museum Tinguely, Basel, 2015 and Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland 2014. She was a recipient of the IASPIS (International Artists Studio Programme in Sweden) award in 2004 and in 2006 she was the Arts Council of England Helen Chadwick Fellow (British School at Rome and University of Oxford). In 2012-14 a Canada Council Long Term Artist Grant. She lectures at Glasgow School of Art.
Kentaro Yamada (b. Fukuoka Japan) is interested in the slippage of these temporal states in the universe, in particular in relation to human beings. He completed MFA at The School of Art Institute of Chicago and Goldsmiths with distinction. He has been exhibiting internationally and recent exhibition include Common Third, Copperfield (2018); Sound of Scent, Victoria and Albert Museum (2017) before breakfast we talked about the furthest possible point before it all disappeared, Tenderpixel, London UK(2014); b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.,MARS!, Munich, Germany (2014); All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: From Interactive To Interpassive, Gallery Momo, Tokyo, Japan (2013)