AIR – Urban Olfactory Installation




In collaboration with:
Symrise, Keraplast, and Planet Design with additional support from Koskenpään Huopatehdas.

What would you think Helsinki smells like? What about Budapest? Or Paris? Together with the Parisian perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, visual artist Hilda Kozári has created three different perfumes to represent these three cities. The first, Helsinki, was chosen because she has lived there since 1997 and the second, Budapest, as it is her previous hometown. The third scent was included in the installation as an homage to the center of the perfume world - Paris. The true inspiration for the project was the fresh smell of Helsinki.

Scent is an important element in the works of the Hungarian born artist Hilda Kozári. She has studied the effects that the sense of smell has on feelings and on visual expression, how scents bring back to mind people and places. Her final work in 2003 at the Art Institute of Lahti consisted of research on perception, olfaction, memory and identity, and their connection to her own work. She has since continued to explore the world of smells in a series of artworks. Besides her artistic work, Hilda Kozári is currently the exhibition coordinator and curator for the Design Year 2005 at the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo.

The Air installation consists of three bubbles. The bubbles, designed in collaboration with Esa Vesmanen, contain Hilda Kozári’s personal memories and experiences of the three cities in olfactory and visual formats. In this installation, the images of the video are transparent like air and vague like the pictures of her memory, leaving space for the spectators to make their own interpretations. The accurate definition of the urban landscapes is given by the sense of smell, which brings to mind different memories. The odor of a city is not just about the sea, wind, parks, buildings and garbage, but also about people, the living environment, and its emotional, cultural and industrial life connected to memory. As in a personal perfume, the smell of the city depends strongly on the balance of odors. A version of the installation was first presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki in 2003.

The perfumes created by Bertrand Duchaufour are direct olfactory translations of the definitions which Hilda Kozári has chosen to create the atmosphere of each city. Mr. Duchaufour has taken the qualifying words and descriptive images used by Kozári as a starting point for the perfumes. No priority has been given to good scents over bad smells. Whenever possible the scents included in the perfumes are represented by the corresponding raw materials. The impression of thyme has easily been produced with the odor of thyme oil. It has been necessary to use several effects in creating the impression of pollution: juniper tar oil for a smoky impression, nutmeg and synthetic compounds to represent the gasoline and the oily, greasy effect of a garage smell.

Summary in Finnish