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Plague for Plague's Sake

As we begin to ease into some kind of normality I am left thinking about my practice as a whole, and how I can ensure safety without compromising my output in light of coronavirus.

Typically, my work is interactive, and each exhibition sees my audience getting their mitts all over a collection of perfumes; passing them along to each other and placing them back down ready for someone else to experience it. Given the coronavirus pandemic, it is impractical to design exhibitions this way. Too much contact is made and it will prove difficult to ensure perfumes are interacted with safely. There will also be a degree of reluctance to initiate such interaction. So, during the next few months at least, this approach to making needs to be shelved.

So what does this leave me with? Well, I think a standard Perfume as Practice exhibition whereby the audience cannot interact with the fragrance rather defeats the object. The aim of these exhibitions is to highlight the possibilities of scent so removing access to the scent would render the exhibitions redundant. Of course, the audience could interact with the scent without touching anything – through paper strips attached to walls that have already been dowsed in scent, for example – but experience has taught me that this method is inconsistent, and experimentation is required to ensure quality exhibitions.

So what can I do now that showcases my artistic input while being safely removed from the perils of the pandemic? The answer inevitably lies in video.

Over the next month or so I intend to make a series of videos that use perfumery to reveal how religion, medicine and ritual have attempted to ward off illness. The scripts for each video are complete and filming should commence imminently. I wanted to introduce an aesthetic that parody’s a cookery show; guiding the audience through an imagined process of how to rustle up a plague cure through fragrance design.

The videos should be fun and rather informal, but should hopefully educate a little too. I’m looking forward to finally filming them.

Now if only someone could invent Smell-O-Vision…


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