Of all the senses, the modern relationship to smell is typically the most ambivalent. Strong odors can literally make us retch, but they also count among the world’s most powerful seducers. They can indicate danger, or tell us we’re home. Though smells are everywhere, both near and far, we often neglect them in our everyday lives — that is, until a chance whiff recalls a love long lost, activates the appetite, or sends us running in the opposite direction. Historically speaking, we live in a thoroughly de-odorized society, and still we spend billions on perfume and household scents, not just to cover up undesirable odors but to replace those we’ve eliminated.
Concept: Dominic Bonfiglio, Potsdam
Participants: Molly Birnbaum, Cambridge, Mass.; Mark Buxton, Paris; Patrick Hehn, Göttingen; Tim Jacob, Cardiff; Chantal Jaquet, Paris; Sissel Tolaas, Berlin; Luca Turin, Vari, Griechenland