I smell a rat

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

I smell a rat is a workshop which challenges the fact that female body scents have a history of particularly negative associations. Participants critically engage with gender-related perceptions about body scents through presentations, discussions, and hands-on experiments. With special attention given to the social and cultural norms of female body scents, the work sets out to explore the following two questions: (1) How do we react towards women‘s body scents? (2) Can we overcome potential prejudice, or even disgust, by cultivating curiosity?

I smell a rat has been commissioned by and presented at Ada X (formerly Studio XX)

Ice-breaking and scentful 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

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