Review: Anna Virnich 'Hyperdrüse' at Schering Stiftung

Anna Virnich 'Hyperdrüse' installation shot - Photo by Fang Tsai

Within the seminar 'New Forms of Research – Artists in Dialoge with Sciences' by Prof. Nina Fischer and Dr. des. Christina Landbrecht the attending students inquire how art and science can come together within their respective and/or joint work.

Results of the seminar, reports of the excursions and thoughts around the topic will be presented on the Hybrid Plattform website throughout the term. The seminar started with an excursion to the exhibition 'Hyperdrüse' by Anna Virnich at the Schering Stiftung:

At a certain time, when we pass through a place or enter a room, a certain smell will have us immediately recall some particular memories from the past. Maybe a place we once lived, or a beautiful evening we spent by a lake. That feeling is so real like we’re there again. This comes from the strong connections between our memories and our sense of smell.

In this exhibition, Anna Virnich collaborated with the institute Scent Club Berlin, together they created two scents, one makes people annoyed and the other makes people relax. Although the two scents are separated and put in different columns, the smells were mixed in the exhibition room, makes people impossible to differentiate them. When I first stepped into the room, it felt like I was covered by a gigantic, half-transparent-pink bed sheet. It smells like a mixture of spice, like cinnamon. The smell is so intense, it makes people unable to escape from every corner in this room. The color of the room is a cozy pink tone, pink and light yellow waxes were congealed on the vans which laid randomly on the floor.

For me, the cooperation between art and science is the most interesting part of this work. Through constantly describing the scent in her mind with the scientists, Anna Virnich creates the scent in the exhibition. As a student in the field of art, I was aware of the excessive use of simplification or symbolization in artworks. Expressing thoughts with symbolic elements sometimes make the works lose its depth. If we can work with scientists, having a reference, this will allow us to have a more precise method to approach our subject.

However, the scent itself is also very abstract in modern society. Compared to vision, we rarely label scents in our daily life, so when I had a chance to use scents to create a related artwork, I tried to visualize the smells of the samples. For me, they all seem like cyan bubbles or some comfortable spaces. Upon reflection, I discover that our experiences in scent mainly came from bath products, boutiques or shopping malls. These scents were created to stimulate consumption. So when I first stepped into the exhibition room, the first impression was also a spice shop or a smell of a scented candle. Maybe in the future, humans will be able to discover different smells more deeply, memorize them, and develop more sensitivity toward different scents.

- Fang Tsai