Hot off the presses and into a shipping container! The German edition of Scents of Exile just shipped to Städtische Galerie Bremen, where it will meet up with newly designed hand sanitizing dispensers. More info as it materializes!


Opening May 8, 2021: A joint project on smell in contemporary art by: GAK Society for Current Art, Gerhard-Marcks-Haus, kek Children’s Museum, Künstlerhaus Bremen, Kunsthalle Bremen, Kunstverein Bremerhaven, Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Städtische Galerie Bremen, Weserburg Museum for Modern Art, Center for Artist Publications.

In the context of a delimitation of the boundaries of art, the cooperation aims to counter the increasingly important and, at the same time, little researched discussion of art with smell. The core of the project are ten individual exhibitions, a scientific lecture series and a joint educational program in the period from May to July 2021.

Of particular importance are the contemporary positions on smell that will be exhibited at Städtische Galerie Bremen, in an exhibition titled, Olfaktor: Smell equals presence, curated by Ingmar Lähnemann and Madalina Diaconu. These are the participants:

Esther Adam, Claudia Christoffel, Peter de Cupere (Belgium), Anja Fußbach, Brian Goeltzenleuchter (USA), Bernadette, Barbara Haiduck, Susann Hartmann, Anneli Käsmayr, Laura Pientka, Jana Piotrowski, Mari Lena Rapprich, Anne Schlöpke, Stephan Thierbach, Maki Ueda (Japan), Clara Ursitti (GB), Martin Voßwinkel, Zhé Wang and Doris Weinberger.

The spectrum of odor-related artistic projects of the 19 represented positions is very broad in terms of theme and media. The exhibition contains “smelly” olfactory works of art and works that are used at certain times in such a way that a direct odor level arises, such as through cooking, through roasting, and through aromatherapy consultation. In addition, there are works in the exhibition that only evoke odor in thought or reflect on smelling as a special sensual activity.

A special feature of the “Olfaktor” exhibition is that all works of art are explicitly about smell in contemporary visual art—a topic which has so far been underrepresented in spite of its increasing cultural attention and its persistence in western art history. All the more impressively, Olfactor shows how the Bremen art scene is taking on the subject, and how the Städtische Galerie Bremen recognizes the contributions of international artists Peter de Cupere, Brian Goeltzenleuchter, Maki Ueda and Clara Ursitti, four pioneers of olfactory art.


Brian Goeltzenleuchter conceived of Scents of Exile in 2014 as a project proposal to an art exhibition of the same title, curated by Ashraf Osman. Unfortunately, the exhibition never materialized, and Scents of Exile was shelved for nearly five years.

In 2018, Brian received an invitation to be artist-in-residence at Sculpture Space during the fall of the following year. His intention was to study the sculptural dimension of olfactory space. While in residence, Brian was introduced to the administrators of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees located in Utica, New York. It was a very bleak time for refugee organizations nationwide as governmental cuts slashed budgets, impacting resources and programs. Working with Sculpture Space and the MVRC, Brian developed the first two Scents of Exile profiles (Keyro, 22, 2019 and Azira, 52, 2019). The project was beta tested at Utica Station in late 2019.

Less than three months later, the country—and the world— would come to a standstill as SARS-CoV-2 spread internationally. While sheltering in place in San Diego, Brian continued to develop Scents of Exile. A simple social media post yielded dozens of willing participants who responded to the aims of the project and wished to share their stories. Brian conducted Zoom interviews for a period of three months.

The next step was designing fragrances that evoked the scent memories told to him by his interview subjects. The scent making process uses perfume-grade materials that are heavily diluted in order to only remain on the user’s hands for a few minutes. The scent compositions are blended into a conventional hand sanitizing solution that exceeds the requirements set by the World Health Organization.

After developing the fragrances, Brian standardized the visual aspects of the project through a series of monochrome relief-printed posters summarizing the interview subject’s biography and scent memories. The poster colors were chosen as a visual interface that connects the written and olfactory narratives. Cultural institutions wishing to feature Scents of Exile in their spaces will receive 1 liter of scented hand sanitizer, a corresponding poster, a freestanding dispenser with poster frame, and a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

The first exhibition featuring Scents of Exile is scheduled to open in May 2021 at the Städtische Galerie Bremen and other partner museums in Germany. In June 2021, the project will be exhibited at Olfactory Art Keller Gallery in New York City.