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From the Smell of Sewage to the Smell of Cash: Mike Bouchet Brings an Olfactory Sculpture to Marlborough Chelsea

Mike Bouchet at the Symrise facility in Holzminden, Germany.COURTESY CHRISTINA WITTER AND SYMRISE

Mike Bouchet at the Symrise facility in Holzminden, Germany.

COURTESY CHRISTINA WITTER AND SYMRISE

During last year’s Manifesta 11 in Zurich, visitors were given an odorous answer to a question they never knew they had: How much solid waste does that stately riverside Swiss city’s entire population produce every day? An artwork titled The Zurich Load by the artist Mike Bouchet provided the answer.

Created in collaboration with a water treatment engineer, Bouchet’s sculpture took the form of 80 tons of dried-out sewage sludge, arranged in a grid of cubes that spanned the length of a room at the Migros Museum of Contemporary Art. In his review of Manifesta 11 in ARTnews, Mostafa Heddaya called it “Scatalogical minimalism.”

One year on (and just when you thought it was finally safe again to breathe with your mouth closed in a gallery), Bouchet has returned with another olfactory offering. This time around, the artist has turned his attention to the stench of capitalism. As of tomorrow, through February 25, all 45,000 square feet of Marlborough Chelsea will be filled with the sweet, sweet smell of moolah. The work, which is presented as a sculpture, is called Tender

How does one come to recreate the scent of cold hard cash? With the help of a master parfumier, of course, in this case Marc vom Ende of Symrise, a German-based smell factory. An approximation of the smell was necessary because, unlike the work in Zurich, the source of the odor will not be present—evidently, it’s a lot easier getting your hands on 80 tons of crap than it is a gallery filled with stacks of green.

The installation shot below doesn’t offer much in terms of sensory stimulation, so it’s probably best experienced in person.

Installation show of Mike Bouchet, Tender (2017).COURTESY MIKE BOUCHET AND MARLBOROUGH CHELSEA.

Installation show of Mike Bouchet, Tender (2017).

COURTESY MIKE BOUCHET AND MARLBOROUGH CHELSEA.

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