Earlier this month I exhibited at Platforms Project, Athens as part of a group exhibition that looked at the contemplation of our solar system. I, alongside artists Sharon Mossbeck and Alison Whitmore, took 3 planets and interpreted them through our own modes of enquiry with reference to Ancient Greece.
Sharon’s work comprised painting and cross-stitch, Alison’s comprised sculptural and works and I presented 3 perfumes, each representing the Greek gods of Zeus, Kronos and Ouranos.
Platforms Project – which is an art fair – was well attended. It reached 16,000 people and our exhibition was well received. I even managed to sell a thing or two, which is great. There are, however, a few caveats with regard to my own work that should be addressed if I am to learn anything and develop from the experience. You see, after much consideration of how to translate three Greek Gods into a scented experience, I decided ultimately to play it straight – simply designing 3 perfumes that acted as portraits of each God. I assumed that this would result in a clear connection between object and concept and would transcend language barriers.
Ironically, by playing it so straight I exposed just how obtuse the notion of a perfume portrait actually is. While the audience did seem to rather like the scents and visual embellishment on display at a base level, the link between the perfumes and the Greek Gods wasn’t as clear as I thought it would be. It required further explanation, which wasn’t always easy to do due to a combination of a complex concept and the language barrier. (although this is partly my fault – I really ought to learn Greek if I’m going there every year.)
Interestingly, a volunteer who also helped out with Platforms Project last year said that she remembered the scented experience I designed last year and that, while she liked what I did this year, she loved what I did last year, which was essentially a narrative based on the notion of The Grand Tour, which incorporated scent:
So perhaps scented sculptural work designed to tell a story, rather than a straight perfume portrait, would actually be more successful in engaging a wider audience? Or maybe the Greek Gods and the complexities of their narratives would benefit from a different approach to a straight perfume portrait? Perhaps a more careful consideration of why I’m choosing specific scented designs is required, based on the concepts I’m trying to reveal.
Either way, it was once again a pleasure to exhibit at Platforms Project and naturally it was another great chance to visit a beautiful city. But maybe next time I’ll leave the perfume at home.
This Friday I embark, with other members of Soup Collective International (SCI), on a journey to Greece to be part of Platforms Project – a 5 day art fair in Athens.
Platforms Project will be a great opportunity to meet other artists, network, exchange knowledge and perhaps initiate collaborations on an international level. As such, I have ensured a great deal of care and consideration has been afforded to the making of the work I am taking – from concept to execution. Moreover, this is one of only a few arts events this year where my involvement in the overall organisation and running of it is minimal. This has afforded me time to ensure the aesthetics of my work are of high quality – a luxury I can’t always afford!
The work itself references my core creative concerns – chiefly that of utilising scent as a primary means of engagement and perfume as a viable art medium. It details a speculative Grand Tour of Europe that could be embarked on as a means to experience different fragrances. These fragrances are then encapsulated within 6 different ‘artefacts’ and placed on display revealed, experienced and assessed in relation to prior knowledge and cultural appropriation.
It intends to reveal the capacity scent has for metaphor, myth, history and narrative, and highlights how the experience of scent may alter and shift depending on any given location and its associated culture and heritage.
This piece was made specifically for Platforms Project and comprises of 6 different artefacts, which will all be teased online before the piece as a whole is revealed in Athens on Saturday. I can’t wait!