Smell: The Neglected Sense

SYMPOSIUM & EXHIBITION

Though unnoticed, our sense of smell is a major mood determiner. Scents evoke vivid childhood memories. They are part of our identity: we each have a scent that is as unique as our fingerprints.

Even cities have their own specific scent profiles. Still, we tend not to be aware of the profound effects of smell. VU Amsterdam is organizing a symposium on 24 February during which an art and fragrance historian, a psychologist and an artist will elucidate the importance of smell as part of culture. A new VU exhibition will also open that will let you observe that which is invisible, indefinable, elusive and often neglected: smell! Both activities are related to scent historian Caro Verbeek’s PhD dissertation, ‘Aromatic Art (Re-)reconstructed: In Search of Lost Scents’.

A century ago, surrealists like Duchamp and futurists like Marinetti used scents to accentuate their images, exhibition spaces, poetry readings and toys. They used Brazilian coffee beans, erotic perfumes, sulfuric acid, ozone, incense and industrial fumes as means to influence the public. Most of these ‘aromatic interventions’ were intended to provoke, to confuse, to alter people’s mood or to add a sensory dimension. Unfortunately, many of these ‘artistic aromas’ have been lost. These days, artists all over the world are once again working with scents and aromas. The exhibition provides an overview of how international artists and perfumers incorporate scents into their art as they explore the boundaries of ‘visual’ expression.

What does the countryside smell like? The Battle of Waterloo? The moon? The planet Earth? These and other lost and rare scents have been reconstructed thanks to the joint efforts of perfumers, chemists and historians.
Indulge your olfactory sense and give your nose something to sniff at. Register for the symposium and come see the exhibition.

Photo: Copyright Gayil Nalls, People sniffing World Sensorium at midnight 01-01-2000, Time Square, New York

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ISCH Conference Senses, Emotions and the Affective Turn

The next annual conference of the International Society for Cultural History will be held in Umeå, Sweden, 26-29 June, 2017. The general theme this year is ‘Senses, Emotions and the Affective Turn – Recent Perspectives and New Challenges in Cultural History.’

Confirmed keynote speaker: Barbara H. Rosenwein

Please submit papers for panels or the plenary roundtable before 19 December 2017.

Call for Papers ISCH 2017 Umeå

The Secular Sacred: Emotions of Belonging and the Perils of Nation and Religion in Western Europe

International Symposium
The Secular Sacred: Emotions of Belonging and the Perils of Nation and Religion in Western Europe
Date: 10 and 11 November 2016
Venue: The Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam

The past decades have witnessed a spectacular rise of both nationalist and religious sentiments across Europe. Indeed, feelings of home, emotional appeals to community and even the ‘people’ (Volk) are entwined with and fueled by the increasing presence of religion in European public spheres, long considered to have been thoroughly secularized. New nationalists and increasingly the continent’s political and cultural elites frame the presence of religion as a threat to the ‘secular’ character of the nation. At the same time, religious ‘roots’, including what is now indicated as ‘Judeo-Christian’ roots, are mobilized as cultural identities. The nation’s secularism has turned sacred, as it were. In this volatile context, both ‘religion’ and ‘secularism’ have become emotionally charged.

The symposium brings together scholars working on issues of nationalism and religion to develop a postsecular approach investigating in tandem the continued and changing presences of religion and nationalism in Europe.

The categories of religion and secularism are categories of practice. They are not fixed, but constantly changing in often highly contested political and social arena’s. Indeed, both categories are frequently mobilized in political projects. For instance, over the past decades nationalists in the Netherlands have framed groups of Dutch citizens with a migrant background (the so-called allochtones) as ‘religious’ and hence ‘backward’, pitting them against a ‘secularized’ and ‘progressive’ but also ‘Judeo-Christian’ Dutch majority. At the same time, forms of religion – Christian, Islamic, and other forms – have continued to gain ground while becoming entangled with identity politics. Not seeking to define the secular or the religious, the symposium will focus on the boundary work through which both categories are being defined, contested, and re-made in social and political practice.

These shifting qualities of secularism and religion call for a praxeological approach, paying particular attention to the involvement of the body, the emotions and the senses or, more specifically, to ‘embodied practices’, ‘sensational forms’ and sense perception (aisthesis). Such an approach sheds light not only on how the nation and the sacred are mediated, but also on how they deeply take root in people, becoming all the more persuasive. At the same time, taking the established notions of habitus or bodily memory as a point of departure may provide us with a more detailed understanding of how practices may both reproduce and (temporarily) subvert the structures of power. How do such insights help us to understand the complexities involved in how a nation’s or a religion’s imaginaries resonate and may reinforce each other?

Invited speakers are: Jan-Willem Duyvendak, Irene Götz (Munich), Deborah Kapchan (New York), Birgit Meyer, Alex van Stipriaan and Jojada Verrips. Speakers from the Meertens Institute include Markus Balkenhol, Sophie Elpers, Ernst van den Hemel, Peter-Jan Margry, Herman Roodenburg, and Irene Stengs.

Please register by email to Irene Stengs (irene.stengs@meertens.knaw.nl ). Details of the symposium’s program will be announced shortly at on the Meertens Institute website.

 

TED talk Caro Verbeek: Inhaling history and smelling the future

ACCESS board member Caro Verbeek gave a TED talk on ‘Inhaling history and smelling the future’ at TEDx Groningen. YouTube cannot do justice to the synaesthetic experience of Caro’s presentation, but the video is certainly worth watching!

Verbeek stresses that due to the increase of social and digital media, there is more need than ever to pay attention to direct and intimate – non transferable – qualities of smell. According to Verbeek it is time to take your nose out of your books, and start inhaling the environment as a meaningful source of information and inspiration.

 

Caro Verbeek is an art and smell historian, curator and author with a focus on modern, olfactory and tactile art. She is currently a PhD candidate at VU University with the project ‘In Search of Scents Lost – Reconstructing the Aromatic Heritage of the Avant-garde’. She teaches the course ‘The Other Senses’ at the Royal Academy of Arts (The Hague) and moderates the monthly ‘Odorama’-platorm at Mediamatic Amsterdam. She curated a show on olfactory art at Villa Rot (Germany) in 2015 and co-curated the Museumnight ‘Ruiken in het Rijks’ (Smelling at the Rijksmuseum) in 2012. She regularly does olfactory interventions at museums and universities worldwide. http://www.caroverbeek.nl

http://tedxgroningen.com/caro-verbeek/

Odorama 6: Smell-blind – the Anosmia edition

Mediamatic, Amsterdam
7th of  april, bites and drinks 18:00, talks 20:00 – 22:00
with Kirsten Jaarsma, Dorien Scheltens and Sanne Boesveldt

Whether derived from nature, or chemically constructed, odourant molecules have the ability to profoundly effect our behaviour, emotions and associations. At Odorama we’ll actively engage with our senses and explore everything that reaches and effects the nose. What happens if you completely lose your sense of smell and become smell-blind? At this edition of Odorama we will discuss the inability to smell.

For more information and tickets: http://www.mediamatic.net/413977/en/smell-blind-anosmia

Anosmia - Imagine being unable to smell the fresh spring flowers. Image from Mediametic.net.

Anosmia –
Imagine being unable to smell the fresh spring flowers.
Image from Mediametic.net.

ACCESS Seminar on cultural specificity of embodied emotions and smell

The Amsterdam Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Emotion and Sensory Studies (ACCESS) organizes a seminar on the:

Cultural specificity of embodied emotions and smell

In this seminar Zhen Pan and Caro Verbeek address the question of the human universality and historical specificity of emotional expression and the experience of smell. Please be welcome to hear, see and inhale!

De reuk, Cornelis Dusart, 1670 – 1704, engraving, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

De reuk, Cornelis Dusart, 1670 – 1704, engraving, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Place:                Meertens Instituut: Joan Muyskenweg 25, Amsterdam

Date:                 Tuesday 22 March 2016

Time:                15.00-17.00

Register:           Please register using the form below this announcement.

Entrance:          Free

Info:                 erika.kuijpers@vu.nl

Program:

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