Diary of Smells - Glass Ceiling

Diary of Smells / Glass Ceiling
Kátia canton, MAC USP

The exhibition Glass Ceiling is incorporated in a project called Diary of Smells, that in turn, is an unfolding of the Diary of Images. These works result in a body of work that was shaped in the early 1980's and are presented in a multimedia form, incorporating a multitude of supports, from drawings to objects to smell installations of the present, through pages built on the Internet, video projections, and avatars.

The Brazilian artist, who lives in New York since the 1970's, is nourished by her personal experience and social-political facts that mobilize the world, especially those that touch the feminine condition - to create a hybrid web, where the time/space relation is spirally and continuously stitched, incorporating in its flow images, sounds, memories and, more and more, smells taken from her quotidian and life stories.

For Josely Carvalho, the sense of smell, which is minimized in the visual and sonorous phosphorescence of contemporary society, became the central element to rescue individual and collective memory.

The subject was already populating her interest a long time before and began to inhabit her exhibition-installations, gradually revealing nests. The nests, visual responses to the human need for shelter and affection along with the insecurity caused by the contemporary condition, were made of transparent resin branches, building large hovering spaces. In 2009, she presented the installation Plotting: Elias' nest in the exhibition A World Without Frames at MAC USP. In 2010, the branches and nests gained scents in the Museum of Fine Arts of Rio de Janeiro and, finally, in 2011, in Viana, ES, they became the core theme of her work. In the exhibition Uru-ku, built from a residence, empty perfume bottles were filled by the residents with their own smell memories. The artist also created a video, book-art, and an installation from the very smell of the annatto.

Since everything she creates is part of a diary, and a diary takes intimacy for granted, we can infer that the Glass Ceiling exhibition is created from personal narratives and memories of the artist. But the first of these narratives is closed and protected. Her olfactory book is encased in a glass window.

Browsing the exhibition space, we come across glass shards made of shattered wine glasses and goblets incorporating actions of rupture. Disruptions. They exhale breakings in the flow of life stories. And these very breaking points gain the olfactory attributes, being baptized respectively as Affection, Pleasure, Emptiness, Absence, Illusion, and Persistence.

There is also the smell that exhales from the breakings. Shattering smells.

Finally, transparent blown glass sculptures keep in themselves the smell of resilience - a smell that the audience is invited to perceive and interpret by handling the olfactory glass urns, thus activating their own olfactory senses.

The artist created six different smells in an attempt to recompose the idea behind what today would be individual and collective resistance. The public combines them in their olfactory memory creating their own smell of resilience. No wonder the shattered glass panels exhibited in Glass Ceilings were collected from political street manifestations in Rio de Janeiro.


© 2017 Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo