Sight has played a dominant role in art for thousands of years. For the last century artists also dealt with the other senses , but because of very limited scientific attention art history seems to have been without scent, taste and not to be touched. Nothing is farther from the truth. The first artist who dealt with scent was Marcel Duchamp, who created his work ‘Belle Haleine eau de Voilette’ in 1921. Duchamp created the piece of art out of an existing perfume bottle, on which he put a picture of his feminine alter ego Rrose Sélavy. Through reproductions we know what ‘Belle Haleine’ looked like, but all too easy we ignore the fact that the bottle contained a perfume that covered women for years in cities as Paris and New York.
Scent and identity are very closely connected. On a daily basis we mask and remodel our true identity with deodorant and perfume. Body odour contains information about our hygiene, our mental state and our cultural background. With the scentless substance of pheromones in our sweat we might be able to give information on our gender, fertility and immune system. Although the effect has never been proved scientifically, artists and aroma jockeys see remarkable behaviour. Female pheromones make people become more loose and more social in their behaviour. In a high dose male pheromones make people become aggressive.
During ‘Why Not Inhale Rrose Sélavy?’ Artpocalypse Collective will be saturated with female pheromones. The artwork is invisible and volatile and seems almost immaterial. Nevertheless it enters our body with every breath we take and we feel it with our biggest organ, our skin. The performance appeals to our sense of smell, our (altered) sight and our feeling. Will people behave differently when they breath in female pheromones in high doses? The performance ‘Why Not Inhale Rrose Sélavy?’ will also react on the photo exibition Sweet Crazies in a different way. These harmless vagabonds in their striking outfits probably not only stand out because of the way they look. It’s very probable they spread very strong body odours like old sweat, urine and waste. Odours that are taboo in our deodorised, clinical, western society. The performance and the photos demonstrate two different aspects of identity that are inextricably linked together: a visual and an osmic.
Experience the effect of female pheromones yourself and see Jan Hoek’s Sweet Crazies for the last time during Caro Verbeek scent performance ‘Why Not Inhale Rrose Sélavy?’ Saturday November 12th at Artpocalypse Collective from 5 till 7 PM. It will be possible to purchase a part of the performance in limited edition.