“The Art of Memory” emerges from my main research area – the individual’s memory in relation with the collective/regional history (histories). The title relates and pays homage to the ancient discipline of mnemotechniques the so-called Ars memorativa “susceptible to lead to vast quantities of knowledge”.
By collecting objects that are that are inherent to the “individual mythology” – either having crossed the owner´s path or being closely affiliated to their personal history – the memory-atlas opens a reflection towards the boundaries and connections between the aspects of collectible, materiality of a (personal) relic and the gesture of forsaking or offering the respective item.
Subsequently, the items are meant to be classified, arranged and finally displayed in inter-connected “micro-installations”, according to semantic criteria and depending on their temporal and geographical itinerary.
Luiza Mogosanu | Berlin 2014
THE SKIN OF 100 SCENTS
Installation work in progress
The practice of archiving started roughly ten years ago, as an imperative to record “evidences” of a new experience that was just unfolding – the “self-imposed exile”. Having chosen to inhibit all direct contact with my native country, during my life and work in Paris, i embraced the new existence, in an unknown country, isolated from familiar environment and native language and engaged my practice into interrogating and exploring the identity as mechanism. I started to archive the items that would describe my “striving” throughout the day (train tickets, notes, food packages…), in an attempt to “freeze” and preserve the “hard facts” of an individual mythology.
The archive became the research incentive for my Master degree, “L´intime à l´oeuvre. La peau des 100 odeurs” (Performing the intimacy. The Skin of Hundred Scents). The theoretic work studies the autobiographic works – foremost those in the field of fine arts and the implications of turning the intimate space into a work medium.
The last chapters of the research describe the experiences of the “self-imposed exile” from the sensorial (olfactory) perspective. The premise of the text is the privileged nature of the olfaction for the activation of the memory. Reclaiming the familiar scents would be the equivalent of re-constructing the sphere of intimacy within unfamiliar (foreign) boundaries. The research is based on diary notes that take the form of a self-reflective documentary. During a time-span of about three months several scents and flavors have been tested and analyzed in order to recall and anatomize elements and pieces of the early memories, specifically those organically related with the native land.
The “hundred scents” have been then organized into an “olfactory atlas” and classified into ten color-coded categories: Green/The Sap (vert – les sèves); Reds/The Earth (les rouges – les terres); Translucents (les translucides); Heavy Whites (les blancs onctueux); Grey/Smoke (les fumés); Gold (l´or); Pinks (les roses); Blue (le bleu); Placenta (placenta); Penicillin (pénicilline). The Skin of Hundred Scents is a work in process. Having set as aesthetic language, the glass “capsule” to render the identity of each category, the project´s aim is to realize over the time 100 capsules – 10 capsule to each category, according to each category´s elements portrayal.
EARTH SHADES AND RED
The green scent led me to the heated exhalation of the soil, just after the last ice. The earth, where i used to mold my female characters had shades between the fresh meat color and coal black.
The earth is a dark and humid gut populated by colonies of annelids and fluorescent gastropods emanating sweet steams of vanilla and cinnamon, cloves, cumin, baked poppy, saffron and ginger incenses from the Sunday cakes, mixed with the smell of wet brick and the stench of the moist fur… Red was taking shape not through the color of blood but through its vibrations. Blood meant the army of stinging fire ants which would leave sour traces on the skin.
Red was back then, in the earliest fiber of the memory, the overwrought breath of the horses and the irate beat of the orthodox wooden music tools; red would erupt from exhaustion and revulsion; it would emanate in its harrowing shades from the hidden carnage of the newborn cats and from the animal corpses found after attacks of nocturnal predators. The smell of earth and red could be found between the most atrocious stench and the bounty of incenses. It was in the eyes of the dead rats. It was in the madness of the priests. This scent species unifies the ghastly cry to the violent eruption of life.
Another category is the “Translucents”: the unseen, meticulously spun, twisted manifold webs that use to cover, to sheath and embrace. The animal fat, the lard, is a basic ingredient in the making of the soap in the village households. The lard would smell like the skin itself. It was, for me, part of the same olfactive family as those of the waxes, the milk, the pollen, the fiber of the flax and hemp, made to thread through a tremendously laborious process and then weaved into precious tissues that would wrap the bodies, cover windows, walls, floors, beds, tables, foods and corpses. The Translucents were the sunflower and pumpkin oils and the wool of the first shearing of lambs.
The last category is the Penicillin. The smell of anxiety, phobia and the fear of disintegration of the flesh. The smell of penicillin is under the sign of inorganic decay, of isolation, of miserable helplessness, like the taste of exile in its dire light. In this category belong the smells and scents that are linked to the primary safety needs. As a child, the nec plus ultra of fear was represented by the stench of antibiotic that i use to take in large quantities over long periods of time. In this category belong as well, the smell of hospital disinfectant, of fresh cast and of concrete – a material which marked a demolishing political regime prone to dismantle a society of its individual traits.
“Pink” were the hyperpalatable confectionery exuding nauseous amounts of strawberry flavor. The strawberry powder bounced breezly from boxes, cans, cartons, bags, packs, pockets, patches, sticks, batons and bars, foils, tins and wrappings; it was the smell of holidays with the family reunited, with aunts and cousins who would bring these happy gifts from abroad to the kids home, before and after the Revolution days. “Pink” were the squashy and spongy pastes, the pulpy soft candies, the lollipops, the chewing gums and bubble gums, the hard candies, the fudges, the jelly candies, the gummi bears, the gummi worms, the pastilles, the gumdrops, the dragées, the gumballs and the candy balls, the marshmallows, the fondants, the jellies, the syrup, the juices, the sodas, the fluids, the puddings, the mousses, the mushy sugary vanilla sauces, the flavored mints, the sweethearts, the glucose drops, all in a variety of shapes and colors that always captivated me as a child. The scent was homogeneous, furtive and frangible. Far from genuine, the taste was a sort of a silly cover up, a clandestine, and all-day-craved prêt-à-manger allowance.
Green was not only a visual perception. In order to reclaim the sensation of green, my body would turn into a sort of a primal membrane that would function through inhaling and exhaling the sap. This elemental integument would feed itself with the smell of freshly cut grass and with the sweet-peppery taste of raspberry beetles that would nest inside the fruits. Green were the vapours of the trimmed celery leaves in the morning, the whiff of mint, the touch of nettles, the smell of chive and savory plucked during the rain; it was the salted lovage, the thyme, the tarragon and the peas in the hot drinks… It was the greasy juice of the green walnuts husks. It was the acrid dry basil that covered the shelves of the wardrobes at the countryside, used as insect repelling and which perfume would envelope the Sunday clothes in a stiff and spicy breeze. Together, these green fluids would cut into the skin´s layers, to refill them with a rain of heavy incenses, acid, stinging and bitter.
(© Transl. from French, Luiza Mogosanu, L´intime à l´oeuvre. La peau des 100 odeurs, PAF, 2013)
THE ART OF MEMORY: Taxonomy
(An ongoing installation-archive / inventory of objects and images)
SILBER UND GOLD
PHOTOGRAPHS OF PHOTOGRAPHS
Photos: © das Graufeld
© Luiza Mogosanu 2016