Blue Oyster Gallery
“Odours are invested with cultural values and employed by societies as a means of and model for defining and interacting with the world. The intimate, emotionally charged nature of the olfactory experience ensures that such value-coded odours are interiorized by the members of society in a deeply personal way.” Constance Classen, David Howes, and Anthony Synnott in Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell. Taylor & Francis. (1994): 3.
If we inhale another’s memories, might we understand each other differently or perhaps more deeply? Osmologies brings together a series of olfactory “portraits” drawn from inhabitants of the same Aotearoa city from a range of ethnic, sensory, gender and neurodiverse backgrounds. Using the intimate sense of smell, it invites an embodied transfer of personal and cultural sensory experiences mingling in the shared space of the gallery.
The memories blended within each olfactory composition can expose histories less known, what is passed over when predominant, Western-centric biographical methods are used for documentation, such as writing and visual depiction. Insights gleaned from each of Jo Burzynska’s ‘smell histories’ can offer a challenge to conventional views on how smell operates – its supposed objectivity and inability to hold wider meanings.
Buzynska’s olfactory portraits interact with interiors rather than the exteriors or surfaces picked up by visual sight. They resist containment and so subtly mix with each other, making a larger, immaterial central work in which experiences coalesce.