Jo Burzynska was announced as the Premier Award at this year’s Zonta Ashburton Female Art Awards (ZAAFA) for the Mechanised Quarter audio-olfactory installation from her 2022 exhibition, What Might We Find When We Stop Looking? Jo was the overall winner out of 29 finalists, winning prize money and the invitation to present a solo show at the Ashburton Art Gallery in March 2024.
Mechanised Quarter was created using insights from a series of walks with members of the community exploring the city of Ōtautahi Christchurch using the non visual senses. It highlights the often overlooked sensory experiences of the city at a time of rebuilding after its devastating earthquakes. The sensory interplay between sound and scent encourages a nonvisual understanding of space and aims to foster alternative connections with urban environments.
“It was wonderful to receive this acknowledgment for my work,” Burzynska said, “As art is still so visually dominated, it was even more rewarding that a predominantly audio-olfactory work won this award. I hope this is indicative of the growing acceptance and celebration of art – and knowledge more generally – generated outside the visual realm.”
Images above: Jo with ZAAFA 2023 judges Lauren Gutsell, Kairauhī Curator at Dunedin Public Art Gallery; Professor Jane Venis, artist and academic; and Caroline McQuarrie, artist and Senior Lecturer in Photography at Whiti o Rehua School of Art Massey University (left) & interactions with the work at the ZAAFA 2023 exhibition (right).
Solo exhibition of mixed media multisensory installations
The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora
What Might We Find When We Stop Looking? was the question navigated through passages across the colonial city of Ōtautahi Christchurch, New Zealand guided by the nonvisual senses. Using the original methodology of sensuous psychogeography, understandings and materials gathered on these often-playful pedestrian explorations were used to create interactive and overlapping multisensory installations. Made from recorded sounds, foraged wild foods, and materials gathered for their textures or distilled and blended for their aromas, the works could be heard, smelled, touched and tasted.
Initially presented as a solo exhibition at The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora – the site from which these multiple solo and participatory walks started – the personal, social, and political understandings grounded in the nonvisual sensory connections these walks disclosed, were used to reflect and remap the city, encouraging different connections with the urban environment.
The city of this exhibition is reimagined through a series of “quarters”, circled by the ambulant city soundscape, Ōtautahi Drifting, and with the Tactile Border on one perimeter for exploration blindfolded by hand. For example, Kahikatea Quarter is an audio-olfactory meditative immersion set in the city’s only remaining podocarp forest fragment; Empty Quarter an experimental tincture of gravel from one of the many corporate carparks on the city’s bare post-earthquake sites; while the final Nurturing Quarter – made in collaboration with forager, Peter Langlands and chef, Alex Davies – invites people to gather amongst sounds of human and animal feeding to share a tonic made from introduced and indigenous plants foraged from the city.
This project was undertaken during Te Matatiki Toi Ora’s 2021 Arts Four Creative Residency Programme supported by Creative New Zealand and Stout Trust, and proudly managed by Perpetual Guardian. Scented support from Fragrifert and use of the perfume studio at Fragranzi.