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A tale of two Amazons, past and present

I’m concurrently exhibiting two editions of An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest in Dublin and Manila. These editions were selected for the exhibitions to fit their themes, and it’s been fun making them for these two very different cities. The one for Science Gallery Dublin’s In Case of Emergency exhibition features scents I smelled during my residency with LABVERDE in Brazil. These are things I encountered in the forest that are at risk from climate change and other human impacts.

The other one at the Manila Biennale which just opened is an edition that interprets the olfactory memories of 18th & 19th century explorers such as Alexander von Humboldt and Henry Walter Bates. I’m uncomfortably aware that these are narratives of a bunch of white guys as they were all I could find, though I intentionally picked those of naturalists. I’m still on the lookout for records that show a diversity of perspectives if you know of any (language doesn’t matter) as this is an ongoing project that is one of my favorites.

(Hey, at least the one in Dublin is based on the account of a woman, of color, from the developing world and is mixed and multi in most things: me.)

Check these out in Dublin and Manila, and
follow the next steps of this project and other works of The #ApocalypseProject on http://www.apocalypse.cc or #OlfactoryAmazon

Image credits: Science Gallery Dublin (top) and Studio CSY

The Apocalypse Project‘s Sewer Soaperie and An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest are exhibited in the first Manila Biennale in the walled city of Intramuros. The theme, “Open City,” refers to Intramuros as the origin of Manila’s culture. It is a tribute to the walled city’s beginnings as a port for the Galleon Trade, a time when Intramuros opened itself up to the world and welcomed new ideas, products and people.

Image credit: Manila Biennale

The Sewer Soaperie consists of soaps made from different points in the cycle of oil in human consumption, from palm oil to used oil to raw sewage and fatbergs, to highlight the effects of our impact on cities. Support for this project was given by Arts Collaboratory, Ministry of Culture of Colombia, and Medellín-based arts organizations Platohedro and Casa Tres Patios, where I did a residency in 2016.

This edition of An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest features scents based on the travel narratives of 19th century explorers of the Amazon, where naturalists such as Alfred Russell Wallace and Alexander von Humboldt encountered this ecosystem for the first time, which relates to the “openness” theme of the biennale. Visitors are allowed to smell these scents and inhale the stories of how these explorers encountered the Amazon. On the wall is text that features the passage of the books where I based these scents from. This project was inspired by my residency in the Amazon in 2017, with the support of LABVERDE and the INPA National Institute of Amazonian Research.

Manila, Medellín, and Manaus are cities that are similar in their colonial history, richness of culture and stories, and vulnerabilities to climate change, which the works highlight. It’s been great fun to bring these together for this historic biennale as well as be reminded of my enriching residency experiences in South America, of which the Philippines share very similar characteristics.

The Sewer Soaperie and An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest

This edition of An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest interprets the olfactory memories of 19th century explorers into scent, based on their travel narratives

The installation can be viewed at the biennale lounge. Image credit: Manila Biennale

Manila Biennale 2018 is led by Executive Director Carlos P. Celdran, and this installation is curated by Alice Sarmiento. Thank you!

Image credits: Photos 1-4 by Studio Catherine Sarah Young, 5-7 by Manila Biennale