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Performance, Sonic Acts 2022

The Syntax of Smell

Originally inspired by the urgencies of the pandemic and the anosmia that millions of people experienced, The Syntax of Smell looks at the entanglements between scent memory, nostalgia and toxicity.

Our daily life has increasingly been scented by large conglomerates, and many of our scent-based memories conceal histories of pollution, waste, and ecological extraction. Scents of fresh laundry and washed linen are likely the product of laboratory produced nitromusks; the taste of ‘fresh’ supermarket orange juice is usually a product of ethyl butyrate; and the burning of sandalwood incense, a dear memory for many, is both neurotoxic and linked to a few forms of cancer.

Engaging with commercial artificial scent production on a micro scale, The Syntax of Smell simultaneously utilises and critiques the olfactory toolbooks of these large industries. During specified moments when the work is activated in the context of an open lab, visitors will be able to share their stories with Majorana, who in turn will create a special scent for them that evokes their lost memories, while simultaneously underlining the links between our memories, our notion of ‘artificiality’, and pollution.

Times of the performances:

Friday 30 September from 18:00 to 21:00 at W139
Thursday 6 October from 19:00 to 23:00 at W139
Sunday 16 October from 13:00 to 16:00 at W139
Sunday 23 October from 14:00 to 17:00 at W139

Photography by Pieter Kers.