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February 4th, 2007
The exhibition functions something like a giant scratch-and-sniff card, with visitors moving along the walls, releasing various odors by rubbing or scratching. They report surprising variation: aromatic, floral or downright smelly. Some sniffers even distinguish lingering echoes of cilantro, vinyl or aged cheese.
But for the Norwegian-born, Berlin-based chemist, linguist and artist, "it's not about bombarding with smell." It's about communication, about "what happens when you just let the body speak."
"It's taboo," especially in this country, Tolaas said, "to express your body. Smell is negative." For this project, Tolaas equipped 16 men — only nine are shown here — with a kind of maxipad that "sucks their sweat." She took the samples into her lab and, with a blend of nanotechnology and the industry practice that gave us perfume-scented magazines, replicated and micro-encapsulated the unaltered scents. She calls it the smell of fear because the men are each driven by specific fears and phobias, the nature of which are not disclosed.
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