January 28, 2017
Christophe Laudamiel DARE TO SNIFF
Perfumer and Osmocurator, Christophe Laudamiel, (to my knowledge), is the only formally trained perfumer being represented by art galleries, Dillon+LEE in New York and Mianki in Berlin. And, he is the only perfumer with scents with collections in the International Perfumery Museum in Grasse, the Cleveland Museum of Art and Harvard University. January 2012 Christophe Laudamiel first partnered with the Dillon Gallery for his one-week exhibition, PHANTOSIMA – ALL ABOUT THE SMELL. Utilizing seven scent sculptures, the concept was all about the sensation of smell without a physical stimulus. It was groundbreaking in so much that it challenged the traditional notion that art was only intended to be consumed by sight. I attended the final day of the show.
For his latest solo exhibition, Christophe again partnered with the (now) Dillon+Lee Gallery which has temporarily relocated to West 22nd Street and 10th Ave., in a residential townhouse. "Over 21" presents scents designed to evoke complex and adult responses to topics of sex, addiction, taboos, and recreation.
I attended the opening press night, January, 19th. Upon entering the foyer, a scent had been diffused as a welcome introduction; THE WHIP and THE ORCHID (2012-2017).
Robert Mapplethorpe Self portrait with Whip, 1978
THE WHIP and THE ORCHID was created as an olfactory interpretation of Robert Mapplethorpe’s self-portrait. As Christophe informed me, "you get the leather whip scene but the fragrance is pretty at the same time". This scent sets the tone for the exhibit.
Opening Night Dinner
The staircase leads to the main hall where the townhouse setting gives off the right ambiance for the dinner-style seating in which to experience the exhibit. I'm not clear how this would have translated into a traditional gallery setting. I thought back to another dinner themed art exhibit, The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago and how polarizing it was (and still is) to the art world. This exhibit certainly presents scent as a ground breaking art form.
The Gallery was instructed not to include wine, coffee or any other liquid libations that would interfere with the scents for the opening event. Only Absolut vodka (unflavored) was offered to guests.
Christophe Laudamiel "OVER 21 Leave Prudes at Home"
M.Laudamiel confided that the genesis for the Exhibit came about four years ago. Here are some observations.
The twelve place settings, clockwise: GREEN FAIRY IN CHELSEA (2017): Like the cocktail hour prior to a dinner, this absinthe scent is intended as a palate cleanser. ELEPHANT IN MUSTH (2007): Christophe shared that elephants, unlike deer that go in heat at the same time of year, can go in heat for three months, six months. A study analyzed that they have a liquid and that the smell is also found in pollen, flowers, cut grass, and lavender. This is the smell that is associated with their mating season which can last many months. GHB (2008): Licorice. LEATHER KINGS & QUEENS (2013): A gentle fist. A fist none the less. HAUTE GLUE (2017) reminds me of making model cars except this has a sneaky cherry note. SWEET GRASS (2017) Cannabis/ Mary Jane. BURLESQUE (2017) was as daring as the name implies, much lighter and cleaner. MUSHROOMS (2008): Pungent and earthy. Let's go foraging. SWEAT OR SEX? (2017): Or is this sweaty sex? Fitting that this was the first scent created. Two porcelain bowls on the table were SPACEWOOD 40SU (2001-2008) and THE WHIP and THE ORCHID (2012-2017).
Two scented Air Sculptures, OPIUM DEN (2010) and BEYOND OPIUM (2015) were stationed on either side of the fireplace. The scents are diffused by touch button. 21 and over, please!
Due to a prior commitment, my time was limited at the press event so I returned the following Thursday to experience the Exhibit in solitude. I engaged Diana Lee, Director of the Gallery in a discussion of the merits of presenting this sort of exhibit within the art community and how it is perceived. I mentioned that even within fragrance circles, this is still fairly new ground being covered. Attending a perfume launch at a department store… this is not. Ms. Lee agreed that it is a challenge to engage all lovers of art, not just perfume aficiandos. Christophe and Dilon+Lee should be commended in their efforts to raise the science of scent to an art form.
CHRISTOPHE LAUDAMIEL: OVER 21
Runs through Feb 17, 2017
–Hernando Courtright, New York City Senior Event Contributor and CaFleureBon Ambassador
*All photos by Hernando for CaFleureBon unless otherwise specified