I smell a rat

30 September 2019, StudioXX, Montreal (CA)
12 December 2019, Goethe Institute Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore (IN)

While all body scents remain stigmatised in Western culture, female body scents have a history of particularly negative associations. In this workshop female participants critically engage with gender-related perceptions on body scents, through a presentation, discussions, and hands-on experiments. With special attention to social and cultural norms in relation to body scents perceived as female, they explore the following questions: How do we react towards women‘s body scents? Can we overcome potential prejudice or even disgust, by cultivating curiosity?

Sequence:
1. Introduction to the theme and each other
2. Introduction to the science of smell
3. Collection of our body scents and discussion
4. Presentation and discussion: Historical and contemporary examples of taboos surrounding female body scents in Western culture
5. Smell exercise with chemical and organic products

 

Fixing cotton pads under a participant’s armpit with masking tape, Montreal, Photo: Gabriel Beck

Ice-breaking exercise, Montreal, Photo: Gabriel Beck

Montreal participants reflecting upon their smelling experience of other participants’ anonymously collected body scents, Photo: Gabriel Beck

Montreal participants smell unidentified chemical and organic products to test their unpleasantness/disgust sensitivity, Photo: Gabriel Beck

 

Ice-breaking exercise, Bangalore, Photo: Magali Couffon de Trevros

Bangalore participant collecting her body scent, Photo: Magali Couffon de Trevors

Bangalore participant smelling an anonymously collected body scent sample, Photo: Magali Couffon de Trevros

Bangalore participants reflecting upon their smelling experience of other participants’ anonymously collected body scents, Photo: Magali Couffon de Trevros

Credits:
Curator Montreal: Natacha Clitandre @ StudioXX
Advice on olfactory matters: Marc vom Ende
Photos Bangalore: Magali Couffon de Trevros
Photos Montreal: Gabriel Beck