One Woman’s Scent on Display at Envoy Enterprises
The crowd outside gallery Envoy Enterprises is here to smell a woman. For “Smell Me,” mixed-media and performance artist Artist Martynka Wawrzyniak has collected aromas from her body and placed them in a scent chamber, where one by one on this opening night, visitors immerse themselves in her aroma.
Video cameras watch while I wait in a long, cheerful line of people, around a white box of a room in the middle of the gallery. Cream curtains cover the only entrance, like we’re waiting for an audience with a perfumed Wizard of Oz.
Martynka’s smell portrait is essence of her sweat, tears, hair and night shirt and it has a scent almost scentless, while at the same time faintly like unwashed hands, dirt, lilacs, paint, nectarines and fashion.
Smell is one of the best links to memory, so in Martynka’s work there is also a burning nostalgia. Like the Urban Outfitters candles I lit in high school in a parody of teenage seduction. Moves from movies I believed won girls. Though I’m sure it smells differently for different “smellers” and conjures uniquely intimate images for all.
There is a communion in the small scent chamber, a non-visual portrait that is more tantalizing. An emptiness that is full, deliciously dizzying, womblike.
Original organic essences are displayed in vials and three candles made with paraffin scraped off Wawrzyniak’s body. She worked with the help of a research team of Hunter College Chemistry students and Professor Donna McGregor as well as Yann Vasnier of Givaudan and scent director Dawn Goldworm of 12.29.
Smell Me will be on display through November 18.