Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Body Odor as the Outer Skin

The Amsterdam-based dance company EG | PC has asked me to extract the body odor from the costumes of the dancers. The extracted essence will be presented as a perfume during the Holland Festival 2008.

Extracting the body odor is quite well known concept and done by many people in the past; for example, the former East Germany secret police Stasi has been capturing the body odor of the citizens to make a sort of scent archive that can be used for tracing a person.

I myself became more aware of the body odor, and actually the sense of smell in general, when I gave a birth in 2004. It's quite well known that the new born baby can already locate where the mother's nipple is by the sense of smell. My body odor for the baby was the lifeline, and his odor was for me the happiness itself. Gradually his odor changed and he started to smell like a sweaty kid. I regret now that I didn't capture his sweet, milky baby odor.

Since then I've started extracting and capturing the scents of the daily life like food and drink, material, person, and the environment. It's also for me the way to explore the culture. Until now I've been developing the different extraction techniques, and it still never ends.

By the way, what comes up in your mind when you think of the odor of a person? The odor of the armpit, or the odor of the foot? Quite remarkable, but they are just the parts. Besides them you are also smelling the skin, a perfume that the person is wearing, and a perfume that is in the shampoo or body lotion. You also smell, together with the sweat, the material of the clothes; the wool has the animalic smell, and the linen has the woody natural smell.

In this work I target on such total odor that the components are indivisible to each other.The extracts are "the body odor as the outer skin", as the working title.

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