This series started a year ago as a way to explore the collection of Kunstmuseum Thun through the angle of scent. For the first exhibition we explored the smells of the processes of art making (turpentine, canvas, glue, metal, clay) through a number of existing commercially-available scents. The second exhibition went into the content of the art, exploring smells of landscapes (according to season). It also featured a variety of niche scents. For the third exhibition we worked with a perfumer (Brigitte Witschi of art of scent – SWISS PERFUMES) to create a number of scents inspired by works from the collection, in collaboration with a group of individuals with varying (dis)abilities.
For the fourth and final exhibition, we worked with one conceptual artist, Habib Asal, to create work that employs scent, inspired by the collection. Asal decided to focus on the themes of fear and threat through an olfactory art installation titled “The Scent of Evil”. We are confronted (almost daily) with images via television, print and online media of (terror) threats and attacks causing society unease, fear and panic. But for most this view remains distant and perception rather abstract since the viewer of such images is uninvolved. So the question is: How can the sense of threat and fear be represented artistically and olfactorily?
The museum’s collection includes images, dating back to the 16th & 17th century, that contain motives of war. Asal chose these to highlight the fact that war, devastation and persecution have always been motives for artists throughout history. Asal’s conceptual approach to the topic focuses on the chemical composition of materials with which feelings of fear can be linked. The main interest in the chemical composition of weapons that cause death, injuries, fear and panic led to the idea of displaying chemical formulas, since these to a non-expert are abstract too and evoke no direct links to scents, although most of them do smell.
For the previous exhibitions in the series, we had the generous support of niche fragrance boutiques in Zurich (Spitzenhaus & Süskind) and Demeter. This time the exhibit features a single iconic scent, Etat Libre d’Orange’s unsettling “Sécrétions Magnifiques”, with its iodized, adrenalin, blood, and milk accords. We thank you all for making this series possible!
In celebration of the Schnupperschau olfactory series final exhibition, Kunstmuseum Thun is hosting a number of events in January:
- January 11, 2017, 18:15 to 19:15:
Guided Tour with Helen Hirsch, director of the museum
- January 15, 2017, 11:15 to 12:15:
Guided Tours with Anja Seiler, scientific assistant and Janet Fiebelkorn, sign language interpreter
- January 22, 2017, 11:15 to 12:15:
Finissage and talk with the artist, Habib Asal, and Katrin Sperry, scientific assistant
Curated by: Ashraf Osman (Scent Culture Institute) & Katrin Sperry (Kunstmuseum Thun)