Fantastical 2014: Christophe Laudamiel at Dillon Gallery, NYC
Christophe Laudamiel continues to explore scent outside of the bottle in his latest show entitled, Fantastical 2014. Through this body of work Laudamiel asks us to rely on our nose solely to guide us past its base function toward to its higher registers. He reminds us to smell nuances that can obscure, confuse, and then suddenly bring us back, and make us laugh. He gives tips, almost re-educates us on how to smell. On the walls of the gallery are instructions that read close your eyes, breath normally, and allow our brain to adjust; it won’t explode. Once inside, the smell tents are dark, black, and curtained off. They deliberately limit the other senses, and allow us to relax and just smell. The gallery space was quiet and the placement of the six “smell tents” were slightly askew, subtly angled away from each other, anchored in their individual identity, but all nodded to the theme running across the work that was based on the supernatural and unnatural creatures that were waiting in the downstairs gallery.
There were seven scent sculptures in all. Six scents were in “smell tents” and one was free floating in the gallery space. I was struck by the immediacy of the work, and how the extremes of each tent can easily transport. Enter a tent and experience an olfactive close up of a bump on a toad, or step into another and find yourself centuries backwards in time. There is no manipulation, you experience what you get, and then you are off to the next tent. These scents live to be experienced, so power off and go if you can, you still have a few more days. My impressions follow:
The Book Thief#5 (scent floating in the gallery space) Papyrus meets dust, sunlight, leather. Laudamiel asks us to, ” .. enter this library arranged around old wooden bookshelves…..A world of literature fantastique.”
Feathers & Fur #6, An ever-changing scent. My first round was a pleasant yet strange mix of bone, skin, and feathers. My second round in the tent allowed for a powdery and flowery mix that I missed initially, Ha!
Sunbathing Devils #4, Exaggeration in scent, the smell was abundant, hot, pungent, like at the end of a big party in a small room, as Laudamiel puts its “.. toasted, alluring, cheeky, maybe a bit burning.”
Frog #3, I wasn’t able to stay in this tent very long, it was an incredibly high-pitch smell that was wet, damp, GREEN, swampy, and decayed. My pen notes read: green rancid grapes.
Roasted Piglets #40, Outdoor cooking. Smokey meat roasting on a rotating skewer sweet yet mostly savory. It was masterful fine-tuned bbq pit, it made me laugh out loud. Laudamiel’s description goes like this, “inside the wolves’ minds.”
Bay Horse #5, Incredibly beautiful thoughts ran through my head. Walking by horses in Central Park, the smell of hay and dung, being in a floral field riding on a horse. The smell both scanned city and rural life. I didn’t want to leave this tent. Laudamiel writes that, “dark cocoa smells animalic naturally; iris root resin is as precious as a horse.”
Leather Kings & Queens #2, Time travel in a tent. Smelling centuries backwards in time, so much movement in this scent. Armor, flowers, the hillsides, a leathery mix.
Upstairs in the gallery lives scent for scent’s sake, and once downstairs with Laudamiel’s creations still in my nostrils I was reminded never to take for granted how our sense of smell enhances the world we live in.
Visit my Facebook page for photos of my visit to the Dillon.