How do we people imagine this?
Yet there is a point.
The idea that odor informs identity would explain Wawrzyniak’s new exhibition Smell Me, opening Saturday at envoy enterprises gallery in New York. The show, which runs through Nov. 18, showcases vials of the artist’s scientifically extracted hair oils, sweat and tears. In addition, a Scent Chamber blasts visitors with clouds of perfume — some of it synthesized directly from Wawrzyniak’s armpit by scent experts Yann Vasnier and Dawn Goldworm.
“I wanted to create a self-portrait that was completely stripped of the visual prejudice that we usually associate with judging a person, or judging a woman specifically,” Wawrzyniak told Wired by phone. “To me, the olfactory aura we carry around with us is very much a physical mix of chemicals.”
Wawrzyniak, who grew up in Poland and emigrated to New Zealand before arriving in the United States to pursue art at the age of 18, says her Smell Me project (.pdf) expresses her reaction to a society she believes has neutered one of nature’s most powerful forms of subliminal communication.
“We’ve completely stopped using this primal method of communication between each other that enables our bodies to send out messages that we pick up like antennae on a subconscious level. Instead, we’re doing everything we can to mask ourselves with deodorant soaps and laundry powders.