The Smell | Sunday Observer

The Smell

4 December, 2022

The sense of smell or odor seems to have received little attention in Sri Lankan visual art. The aim of this art exercise is to draw attention to this somewhat neglected sense of feeling and to make it an object of its own reflection. This means it is necessary to closely examine established assumptions that claim our sense of smell is a weak, primitive, animal sense characterised by inappropriate, dirty or immoral behaviour.

Some studies on olfactory sensitivity indicate that smell plays a crucial role in the formation of memories and affect, as well as in the formation of identity and other forms of being. The smell of another person or the smell of various things is always a personal, cultural, and genetic experience. And the perception of both a bad smell and a pleasant smell is based on the essence of these odors. Literally, an odour originating from a body (the subject or object from which the odour emanates) indicates the externalization of this essence. Consequent to feeling or not feeling this essence creates metaphorical expressions of proximity or distance to bodies.

In this manner, the individual and social preferences and dislikes of this essence tends to get graded. In other words, hierarchies are created. Even though making judgments about this essence feels like a present situation, it is invariably influenced by past opinions. At times, this may manifest even as matters of conscience.

This art exercise is designed to inspire people not to discard what is considered useless or seemingly unstable ideas by presenting thought forms about the invisible, the unbelievable and the obscure.

Definition of the ‘The Smell’: Olfaction determines the location, direction, and impulses of an object via the agency of personal, cultural, and genetically constructed conscious and unconscious memories.

‘The Smell’ participants: Ajith Kumarasiri, Namini Panchala, Anura Krishantha, Bandu Manamperi, Chaya Kothalawala, Dinalka Liyange, Godwin Constantine, Janani Cooray, Kajendra Sivasubramaniam, Kanchana Malshani, Kumari Kumaragamage, Lakni Prasanjalee, Ogha Collective, Omali Radika, Poornima Jayasinghe, Pradeep Chandrasiri, Priyanthi Anusha, K.K. Shrinath Chathuranga, Sumadi Suraweera, Sarani Perera, Athula Bhalla (India), Hector Cononge (USA), Jeetin Rangher (India), Monica Nanjunda (India), Murali Chiroth (India), Sascha Brosamer (Germany), Satadru Sovan (India) and Xie Wei (China).