[Sept 14 – Oct 27] Diary of Smells: Anoxia by Josely Carvalho

The installation Diary of Smells: Anoxia. is a fragment of the artist’s aesthetic and sensorial research started in 2010.

© João Caldas

DURATION: Weekends from Saturday, September 14th to  Sunday, October 27th 2019

Time:  11 am – 5 pm

LOCATION: Building 10a, Nolan Park, Governors island.

Artist Opening Day Sunday October 13, 2019

Initiated with her collection of broken wine glasses as a metaphor for our personal shards, the project expanded to embrace collective experiences and her own participation in the demonstrations through the streets of Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

As memory traces of world protests, she created six smells: Pepper; Lacrimae; Anoxia; Barricade; Dust; and Nocturnum Cestrum. The collection of smells gave name to Resilience, marks of recent times, still present, not only here, but also in other places where conflicts exist and street movements are frequently demobilized by dispersal devices.

Concurrent to her artwork with glass shards arose experimentation with glass blowing in the Urban Glass Studio in Brooklyn, where sand, fire and energy propelled by bellows gave form to transparent sculptures as nests that shelter encapsulated smells.  These scents paired or joined together may represent that of Resilience. They are left open to the public to interpret and combine them through their olfaction memory.  They can then create their own smell of Resilience.

The Amazon rain forest, the lung that produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen is on fire. It is an international crisis.” Toxic smoke from the fires is so intense that darkness has fallen in São Paulo in the middle of the day. Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right populist president of Brazil has weakened the Amazon’s environmental protections—which have been effective at reducing deforestation for the past two decades—and open up the rainforest to economic development. For Miasma, Josely Carvalho has broadened the context to embrace this calamity. She has selected three of the six Resilience smells: Barricade, the burning smell from destroyed forests;  Lacrimae, from tear gas used by police to stop protests to tears of sadness; Anoxia, asfixia produced by the elimination of oxygen. 

The video Memory of Glass, is a meditation on the power of fire to transmute glass shards, keeps in its entrails the memory of renovation and revolution. 

© Joao Caldas Fº

What is the smell of Resilience? 

A disturbing smell! Heterogeneous! Unexpected! 

The top notes exhale gunpowder and pink pepper. They sting the nostrils. The body notes bring the coarseness of dust. It tickles the throat and irritates the olfactory nerves.  Smell of white carnation and ylang ylang. Smell of burning candles.  Putrescine C4 H12 N2 and Cadaverine C5 H 14 N2Z). Decomposition. Threatening odor.  Could the tear gas provoke blindness? The smell of sweat and blood mix themselves with the heat of the fire that blows the glass. From deep down, in the base notes, a fragrance emanates – the smell of the Queen of the Night. The feminine sensibility could it be a prediction for our future? The accords transform themselves in six odors to be sensed separately.

The unique smell of Resilience does not exist, but there are infinitive ways to smell and resist.

In your memory, create your own smell of Resilience.

Artist Bio

Josely Carvalho, Brazilian multimedia artist, poet, and activist, lives and works in New York City and Rio de Janeiro. Over the past four decades, she has assembled a body of work in a wide range of media that gives eloquent voice to matters of memory, identity and social justice while consistently challenging the boundaries between artist and audience, and between politics and art. 

​Her present project Diary of Smells, is an on-going cross-disciplinary sensorial project. The inclusion of olfaction results from her long examination of society`s basic need to be sheltered in a moment in which the sense of home/nest is threatened by wars, refugee camps, migrations and the fragility of the environment – the collective shelter.​

She has been awarded with her installation Glass Ceiling: Resilience the 6th Art and Olfaction Sadakichi Award for Experimental Work with Scent in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 2019.

Among her grants and residences are Pollock-Krasner Foundation; Creative Capital Foundation; Frans Masereel Print Center, Kasterlee, Belgium; NYSCA; Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center; Rockefeller Foundation`s Bellagio International Conference and Research Center, Italy; NYFA; NEA. Her pioneer webwork, Book of Roofs/ Livro das Telhas [www.bookofroofs.com], from 1999, has received grants and has been shown in several venues.

She has shown extensively and at present her installation Diary of Smells: Affectio is in exhibition at the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro. ​

© João Caldas

“Josely Carvalho inverts spaces, roles, meanings and maybe even dreams. The culmination of these triggered sensations, brought to mind by images and smells is that we experience something latent, lived once before, and belonging only to us. The power of memory leads us to relive the past. It touches in our comprehension of, and rumination on temporality. The effect of trading places awakens new sensations. And the smells can be of happiness, sadness, fear, courage, continuity, end, extinction, rebirth; they can be the smells of places, moments, or smells that transport us to an encounter with death and life.”

Laura Abreu, from catalogue Nidus Vitreo

More information can be found at www.joselycarvalho.com and in the recently published bilingual book Diary of Images, published by Contra Capa Editora, in Rio de Janeiro. 

“…Encore intacts, les réceptacles de Resilience, oú se nichent les odeurs d’une révolution, semblent offrir un refuge à la persévérance des peuples. Une résilience politique et sociale à humer, vivante et palpitante, susceptible, au moindre heurt, d’éclater et de se répandre à nouveau, comme une trainée de poudre.”

Clara Muller, NEZ #7, 2019. Pg 50-51

“J. Carvalho’s use of silkscreen, photography and drawing, combined with the representation of the maternal body, deconstructs the codes of the old masters’ tradition by using techniques alien to a conventional repertoire and embedded with mass visuality. In this process, the body becomes a committed terrain, with its corporeality bearing the production of meaning and the subversion of power structures usually associated with language and visual signs.”

Lara Demori, 12.06.2019

PRESS & Interviews




Esteban Salazar, Urban Glass, Brooklyn, NY; Leandro Petit, Givaudan do Brasil, São Paulo; Joan Logue and Paul Geluso, Harvestworks, New Yor

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