Collaborative Work: Untitled (Smell Project)
Installation; digital printed film photographs, hand-stamped poetry, platic bags filled with smells
collaborated with Ruzanna Hanesyan, an Armenian artist.
During our project, we collected smell and documented the area where the smell came from for two days in the Downtown LA. On the first day we started from the Main Museum and walked without a specific goal or direction, but to collect and document the smell. We would walk closer to the architecture (buildings) and smell then capture only those odors that come from there. Once our hands were full of plastic bags we walked back to the car and restarted the walk from a different direction forming almost a flower pedal in which the center is The Main Museum.
On our second day, we chose a different area known for a shopping mall, restaurants, and office buildings. Those areas contained common smell from our first visits to America. The scrambled egg, coffee, and the airport feel were strongly present.
In the installment, we wrote poetry on our experiences, the common smell knowledge and stamped each letter with blue ink. The deconstructed words are present in one piece, which relates to the photographs.
Smell gives the specific feeling that triggers specific response yet it is ambiguous and anonymous. The photographs are memories (documents of smell) but without labels and the plastic bags with smell is a bridge for that specific memory, but it is still vague to which specific memory? Which smell? Refusal to pinpoint is the poetic part of piece everything about the smell but no smell for the viewer all wrapped in plastic bags.
During the opening, we noticed how individuals would walk either around or make a path through the plastic bags to access the work on the walls. It took a certain amount of time for plastic bags to move because of their lightness and the outside air of people passing by. Once the bags moved there would be more paths and more access based on the position of bags.
With the film, we capture the light and make into the process of material and all the elements are materials. Isn’t the smell a material? The smell becomes an object (materialization) and it got volume. Ephemeral is in the mass it’s taking up space. There are various material manipulations such as the blue ink pressed on paper, the air smell in plastic bags and the light going through the camera and into the paper. In some of the images, you can feel the smell of the space, but they don’t have a literal document that initiates the smell.
On the other hand, the poetry on the wall gave an insight into a personal and private ritual that we performed and text serves as a way to access it. The fugitive nature of the smell is present in the materiality of the processes we conducted. It questions our history and the process of what makes into the history and what doesn’t?