Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

26-28 November 2020, University of Applied Arts Vienna/Online

110. Volatile Effluvia: ‘Bad’ Smells as Resistance
Session: Session "ORF7b / Index"
Speakers: Alanna Lynch

In this artist talk I discuss the politics of smell looking at the potential of so-called “bad” smells to function as a means of resistance. I present my ongoing, transdiciplinary research on the politics of affect, disgust, and contagion, and present several of my works focused on malodors. 

My research falls within a queer, feminist, and decolonial framework and I present my work within a wider historical context and with reference to scientific research. We each perceive smells differently due to our learned experience and associations. Given this subjectivity of smell, odors provide both effective and affective means to approach issues of identity and power. I’m seeking to create smells “from below.” Beyond provocation and the claiming of space, I look to smells in their ability to communicate information and generate situated knowledge. 

Works to be presented include Emotional Labour (stink bombs made from household ingredients), Gut Feelings (an investigation of bacteria cellulose as well as the larger processes of digestion and decomposition), works with urine, as well as various ongoing experiments to produce malodors from my gut bacteria and via processes of fermentation. I also present recent activities as part of the collective Scent Club Berlin reproducing the smell of a dead body and the smell of a burning body. I expand upon themes from my upcoming book chapter on the political potential of working with smell to discuss the current state of my research and future directions.

Alanna Lynch

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