Gayil Nalls
Olfactory Art → The Smell of a Critical Moment

The Smell of a Critical Moment, 2012
Conceptual project installation
Mixed media, metal, cotton and paper
41 of 99 t-shirts worn by Occupy Wall Street participants
Rack with Shirts: H .67 x W .72 x D. 22 inches

The Smell of a Critical Moment investigates the unique role of chemical communication within participants of Occupy Wall Street and the odors that carry information influencing our emotions, behavior and judgments, as well as our sense of beauty and urgency. Visitors experienced chemosensory messages of Occupy Wall Street protestors from tee shirts worn by participants: physical Occupiers, working group members and solidarity marchers. A tag hangs from each shirt, some revealing identification and contact information for each individual and their statement of dissent. In this way, the shirts give form to a body of messages, having been worn for the previous week, absorbing the individualÕs molecular odorprint. The opportunity for participants to reveal themselves, in sensorial and biographical information and for viewers to contact them, renders a form of transparency that grows a vital discussion. The project explores the conjunctions where art, olfaction and politics intertwine, demonstrating that collective experience has distinct olfactory aesthetics.

The Smell of a Critical Moment