Brian Goeltzenleuchter: Scents of Exile, June 3 to June 26, 2021 at Olfactory Art Keller, 25 Henry Street, New York

Scents of Exile is an ongoing art project started in 2019 that bears witness to the immigrant experience, one person at a time. For Scents of Exile, Goeltzenleuchter interviews refugees and other immigrants about their scent memories of home. Odors, which are ephemeral and fleeting, have a strong connection to place and often elicit vivid and emotional memories—a phenomenon known as the “Proust effect.”

Goeltzenleuchter uses the interviews as inspiration to create fragrances using cosmetic-grade materials. These fragrances are then embedded in hand sanitizer. Each Scents of Exile station consists of a freestanding dispenser filled with scented hand sanitizer ,and a printed display summarizing the interviewee’s story and scent memories.
Goeltzenleuchter intends for the Scent of Exile stations to be installed at cultural institutions for use by the public at events. The goal is to raise awareness of the diversity of immigrant experiences and facilitate a dialogue. When a visitor sanitizes their hands, the fragrance is transferred to the visitor who will carry it with them after leaving the institution, thereby taking the scent memory with them and becoming part of the artwork in a performative act.

At Olfactory Art Keller, eight Scents of Exile stations will be on display, including one that dispenses hand sanitizer scented to evoke the smell of sweat, smoke, and tear gas reminiscent of protests in Egypt during the Arab Spring (Keyro, 22, 2019), and one that dispenses hand sanitizer scented to evoke the smell of boiled milk (Azira, 52, 2019). In parallel to the exhibition, several Scents of Exile stations are being used in museums in Bremen, Germany as part of Smell it! Smell in Art, the multi-museum survey of olfactory art. The artist will be present for an informal opening reception on Thursday, June 3rd from 4 to 6 pm. At 6 pm on June 3rd, he will discuss his work, including Scents of Exile, with Saskia Wilson-Brown of the Institute of Art and Olfaction.