MAKI UEDA

- a perfume art for filling imaginations for a perfect Japanese woman -

perfume artwork, installation (2008)

 

 

CONCEPT

This artwork consists of 4 fragrances.  Like in a perfume shop, you are free to spray them on the paper strips, smell them, and even to wear them.  After spraying, please allow 20 seconds until alcohol vaporizes completely, then enjoy the smell.

Each smell symbolizes how Japanese society expect women to be.  All the essences are manually extracted from the natural (raw) materials with distillation method or alcohol extraction method by the artist.

 

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ACCOMPANYING TEXTS

 

No. 1  Nukamiso

- the scent of motherhood -

There is an expression about housewives in Japanese: "A woman that stinks like Nukamiso".  It's an expression for the women who are so much stuck in the family life that they are not attractive as women anymore.

Nukamiso is salted rice-bran paste for making pickles.  Every family used to have a bucket that looks like a sauerkraut barrel.  The Nukamiso paste needs daily maintenance.  Therefore the hands of the housewives used to stink pretty sour like Nukamiso .  Mentioning such a smell was used as a metaphor for insulting housewives.

But that is slowly becoming the past.  Nowadays, Nukazuke became something to buy at the supermarket, so no woman knows anymore how to make Nukazuke at home.  In the near future women that stink like Nukamiso would not be seen with the traditional sense, but would be recognized as super feminine and sexy women!  Don't be too late.  When you serve Nukazuke to your husband, make sure that you spray this perfume on your hands, so that he thinks that you've made it yourself.  This is the eternal scent for motherhood.

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(It's a pickling paste made with rice bran. It smells like 'zaurkraut'. I used alcohol to extract the smell.)

 

No. 2  Tatami

- the scent of freshness as new tatami

A Japanese proverb says: "Wives and tatami's are better when they are new."

Tatami is the traditional  Japanese carpet and floor woven from rush.  The traditional house is made with tatami and shoji (rice paper doors and windows).  New tatami is always preferred because it's clean and also giving the fresh and comforting smell of rush.  However the smell disappears as time goes by.  That has become a metaphor for a wife.

You would question: is it only a wife that is better when it's fresh?  How about a husband then?   Let's leave that question aside for a moment.  If you want to feel fresher and younger as a woman, this perfume is ideal for you.  It's the perfume for any generations.

* Most of the Japanese women give up their jobs and become pure housewives when they get married or when they get children.

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(Japanese people make hard carpet with weaving this grass. The whole floor of Japanese house is made with this mat, so it's an important substance of Japanese house-smell. I used alcohol to extract the smell.)

 

No. 3  Miso Soup

- the scent of a woman in the kitchen -

A happy morning is to wake up with the sound of the kitchen and the smell of miso soup – that's the traditional image of a family.  Japanese people eat a warm meal in the morning.  Perhaps it has already become the past.

If you want to wake up your family with such an elegance, this perfume can help you.  This Miso Soup Perfume can be used as a room spray.  The family will wake up with the happiness resulting from the smell of Miso Soup.

This perfume is also useful for fooling the nose of your husband, in case you want to pretend that you've been working all day in the kitchen.

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(It's a national soup made with miso, a fermented soy bean paste. I made the soup in the flask and extracted the smell with water distillation method.)

 

No. 4  Soap

- the scent of pureness and cleanness -

One of the most important morning rituals for  Japanese high school girls is to wash their hair just to scent the hair with the smell of shampoo.  If you don't have time to take a shower in the morning, you can scent your hair and your body with this perfume:  the smell of the soap.

Japanese men prefer women that represent pureness and cleanness.  Don't worry if you aren't.  This perfume will also emphasize the attractive contrast in yourself.

* Japanese people like the smell of soap very much.  Women often purchase perfumes that smell like a soap.

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(I scraped a soap and extracted the smell with water distillation method.)

 

EXHIBITIONS

Gallery Roodkapje, Rotterdam (PREMIER), 09.2008.

Dutch Design Week, Eindhoven, 17-25.10.2009.

World Technology Network Award, New York, 07.2009.

Artists Summit Kyoto, Japan, 12.2009.

 

CREDITS

Camera Japan Festival 2008

 

 

- body odour extracts of 7 dancers -

perfume art, for sale (2008)

comissioned by: world-wide known contemporary dance company Emio Greco | PC.

 

ABOUT "7 SMELLS"

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7 Smells – an olfactive art project by Maki Ueda
On the request by EG | PC to distill the essence of the dance company, Ueda is exploring new ways in her olfactory research, for the first time using fabrics. On her part, the Japanese enriches the ever developing scent culture of the dance company. Her work forms a crucial step in the realization of a genuine perfume that will for the first time ever translate a choreographic concept into an essence. 

For Maki Ueda, the starting point is the sweat of the dancers collected in the fabrics of the costumes by EG | PC designer Clifford Portier. The metaphor of the sweat is strongly intertwined with the essence of human movement. Portier's designs constitute active elements within the works of the choreographers where they even lead a life of their own: time and again they are worn until they are worn out. The sweat residues in the costume fabrics testify to the past exertions of the dancers, as scented fingerprints of spent energy. 

The perception of the EG | PC scents commences a mental journey in time to that lost, evaporated moment of creation of a danced performance: the scents remind us of the energy that is involved in constructing a dance creation, or recalls to the present the physical exertions that occurred during the performances. Never concrete. After all, motion and scent share that elusive character. Limited edition

33,-

Purchase 7 SMELLS (Emio Greco | PC website)

 

SOURCE OF THE BODY ODOUR

 DANCE PERFORNANCE "HELL" BY EMIO GRECO | PC

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HELL - trailer from ICKamsterdam - Emio Greco | PC on Vimeo.

 

PROCESS OF EXTRACTION

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More documentations regarding development:

http://scent-lab.blogspot.com/search/label/%5B7%20smells%20%28body%20odor%29%5D

 

 

RELATED PUBLICATION: MAGAZINE "PURGATORIO" 

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7: risorgimento for purgatorio – magazine (EN/NL/FR)

7: risorgimento for purgatorio – magazine (EN/NL/FR)
Pretext. Image. Scent. Text. And context. A synergy of various artistic energies clustered around the theme of purgatory. That is what the [purgatorio] magazine, closely linked with the EG | PC performances [purgatorio] POPOPERA and [purgatorio] IN VISIONE, has to offer. The work of the choreographers and the artistic team feeds the essence of the magazine. In its turn, the magazine perfumes the creation process as an interactive forum. A purifying reciprocity. 

Art director: Isabelle Vigier 
With contributions by: Arnon Grunberg, Levi van Veluw, Maki Ueda, Gérard Mayen, Johan Reyniers, Bart Boone, Pasquale Martini and René van Peer.

Published by Emio Greco | PC in close cooperation with art director and artist, Isabelle Vigier. 
Available in Dutch, English and French. ISBN 978-90-810813-4-4

7,50

Purchase Purgatorio magazine (Emio Greco | PC website)

perfume art (2008)

 

NO.1 Hyacinthus

NO.2 Dutch Cheese (Belegen Kaas)

NO.3 Speculaas Spices (Speculaaskruiden)

NO.4 Autumn Leaves (Herfstbladeren)

NO.5 Brussels Sprout (Spruitjes)

 

0.5ml each

 

These perfumes are not meant to be worn, but to be smelled for triggering your memories, emotions, and imaginations. Open the cap, wait for 15 seconds so that the alcohol evaporates, and let the smell enter your nose from the stick. The smells are manually extracted from the materials by the artist.

first release: Jan. 19, 2008

 

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HOW TO ORDER

(1) Worldwide: direct order, 35 Euro ex. shipping cost. Shipping by normal post (thinner than 3cm).  Contact 

(2) in Japan: 5,400 YEN ex. shipping cost, distributed by Inframince contact(at)inframince.jp

 

 

DEVELOPMENT

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More documentations: http://scent-lab.blogspot.com/search/label/%5BThe%20Scents%20of%20Holland%5D

 

 

 

EXHIBITIONS

2008 Kunstsuper, Rotterdam (NL)

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2009 FoAM, Brussels (BE)

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2009 Artist Summit Kyoto (JP)

2010 World Technology Awards, NY (US)

2010 Inframince, OSAKA (JP)

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Collaboration with inframance, inc.  Five different textures of tonic and milk offer the users sensitivities for skin and touch. 

 

perfume _ tilde_

An olfactory artist Maki Ueda developed for the fragrance of [tilde_] with the image of "skin tone".  It is not too sweet, somewhat dear, and transparent. In the old Japanese language, there was no clear division in expressions for the color and the smell.  For example the word "niou (fragrant)" meant not only smelling nice, but also meant that the color of "beni" looks vibrant. (The color is in between red, pink and orange). There is a perfect example in the oldest poem book "Manyoshu" edited more than 1000 years ago.  The poem is about the beauty of a woman who is standing under a peach tree.  The pink color of the blossoms is reflected on the chin of the woman.  He says that the skin color of her chin is "niou (fragrant)".   Such unique Japanese sensitivity, somewhat synesthetic, became the starting point for the "skin tone scent". 

 
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 inframince.inc (http://inframince.jp)

 Maki Ueda (http://www.ueda.nl/)

 

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Learning how to make the earth perfume - Indian Attar - (2014)

 

Overview

The final goal of this project is to make “The Earth Perfume” of the Dutch harbour city Rotterdam by means of distillation. The result did not smell good. But I accept that. Rotterdam is an industrial city located downstream of the River Rhine, where contaminated water and air flows in. Scents do not lie. The truth is represented in the work.

Each earth represents its local scent.  No one smells the same.  Microorganisms and vegetation of the area and the degrees of contamination appears in the scent of the earth.

The scent of so-called the first drop of rain – that’s what I am aiming to capture and make perfume out of it.

Background

This project started with an email that arrived from India one day.

"Hello. I’m Aastha from India. I was interested in your works.  My grandfather was a perfumer. In India, a traditional way of distilling and making perfume is still being practiced, but disappearing. Do you want to learn it together?"

In India, from ancient times about 5000 years ago, long time before alcohol-based perfumery was developed in France, oil-based distillation and perfumery has been practiced.  The perfume oil is called Attar. There are roughly 30 types of Attar nowadays, mostly made from common plants and flowers like rose and jasmine. To my eyes "The Earth Attar" seemed to be interesting. I also made an attempt to extract the scent of the earth in Western distillation method many times, and had failed. So "to learn the distillation method for extracting and making the perfume of the scent of the earth”, I applied a grant to the Rotterdam City Art Center.

Encounter to the perfume house in Kannauj

In April 2014 I visited Kannauj, a small town along the Ganges River which is located about 200km southwest from Delhi. It’s a town known as the city of perfume and Attar making. In the middle of election campaign, it was a journey with tensions where tempted civil soldiers were walking around with guns. 

Aastha had visited Kannauj prior to my visit with her grandfather’s old diary hoping that she would find some grandfather’s footage in the town.  The Perfume House that her grandfather’s friend was running was alive, and the grandson was the current owner. "My grandfather was your grandfather’s friend!" The owner, Mani accepted her, and helped out our project.

Mani gave me all that he could show me over a period of 3 days, not only information but also materials. It was quite unusual in the world of Indian conservative perfumery.

How they make Attar

Incredible scene was waiting behind a small gate in the backstreets of Kannauj. In the courtyard, there was a pile of rose petals. Like Cleopatra's bedroom. Later I got to know that it was arranged especially for our arrivals by Mani.

His staff pack the petals in jute bags for weighing 10kg. They carry them to the backyard, and throw them in distilling pot that had been pre-filled with water. They close the lid, and put it on fire. Solid block fuels made from cow dung are used here. To take care of cows is also part of their work.

The cooling pot is always exposed to running water. In the pot  “base-oil” sandalwood oil is waiting for the drops of cooled water. It contains the rose aroma.  It goes through the membrane of sandalwood oil and the rose aroma is adsorbed in sandalwood oil.

If you leave it running, the cooling pot gets full. Then, cooled water is collected through the hole on the bottom of the cooling pot (thus the layer of sandalwood oil is left intact) and recycled back into the distilling pot. The next day, the rose petals are replaced, and the same process is repeated. Having continued this for 4 to 5 days, the intensity of the fragrance gets increased.

Difference between Indian Attar and Western perfumery

The perfume houses usually have secret family recipes. On that day that I visited, in addition to The Rose Attar, “Hini Attar" was in the process.  Having used more than 20 kinds of herbs and spices, it smells animalic like amber and quite spicy. Raw materials are thrown into the distiller before putting on fire. This means, making corrections later is no longer possible. This is very different from the Western-style.

In the Western-style, a “aroma palette” is first made by distilling materials one by one separately, and then mix them later. In other words, you can make corrections later as much as you want. In the case of Indian Attar, all is determined by the first formulation. Natural elements also affect the result: the quality of the cow dung as fuel, thermal power adjustment, the temperature of the cooling water, and temperature of the aging period, etc. This requires experiences and intuitions: it's like magic.

The surprising relationship between The Earth Attar and tea house

The surroundings of Kannauj is amazing.  The earth of dry red soil continues forever. When we were almost approaching the town, we took a rest at one of the chai places that you could find roadside anywhere.

In the center of the teahouse the master was making hot water with charcoal. How many cups of chai would he be brewing per day sitting there? It was not just a cup of chai, but the carefully brewed one. I took a sip. The first notice was the smell of the earth. It is the scent that rises from terracotta cup. The dry, robust scent was coloured by the scent of spices and tea. Smooth taste of milk warmed the mouth.

Terracotta cup is for one-time use only and disposed. A potter makes them usually next to the teahouse. Since the water is very valuable, it’s probably more efficient to throw it away than washing it. The cup returns to the earth. It’s 100 percent bio-degradable.

Thus a cup of chai and the earth has an inseparable relationship. Indians taste and drink the earth on a daily basis. And I got to know then that The Earth Attar is made from the  terracotta pottery. In place of rose petals, you use teracotta.

Mani said "If you spit water over the soil, there is the scent that rises that moment.  Don't miss that moment. It is not a very strong smell. Replace the materials many times when distilling, so that the scent gets more intensity."

Mani gave me The Earth Attar that his friend made. It was very dry scent, reminding me of rough and vast ground around Kannauj.

The Earth Attar of Okinawa (Ishigaki Isl.)

Having learned the technique in India, new question arose. How to make terracotta from the soil then? It was an unexpected problem. I have no pottery experience, and not even able to tell the clay suitable for making teracotta from. However in Okinawa where I run a second studio, pottery making is a popular traditional art. So I visited potters and learned the way roughly. My friend who was the nature guide helped me with collecting the red soil from the riverbank.

 

I do not have to describe the whole process here but I did make teracotta from the earth as potters would do. Then I made a number of coins for the size of the distiller. It was the process that took many many days.

Then, I applied the method I learned in India for my equipment. Over a period of several days, sometimes leisurely on the wood stove, I continued distillation. So was “The earth perfume of Okinawa” developed. It was a refreshing scent somewhat dry, reminding me of a strong sunlight in the summer.

The Earth Attar of Rotterdam

Now is the Rotterdam’s earth. Since the clay is often found at the riverbank, I went to the Brienennoord Island in the middle of the river Maas (the downstream of Rhine) that flows through the center of Rotterdam. In the groomed beautiful park, I packed the earth in my car.  I must have been a suspicious person. I filtered it, made terracotta clay, shaped coins, and then distilled them. Since Rotterdam is close to the sea, the earth contained a lot of sand, which made shaping coins quite difficult.

The scent of The Earth Attar of Rotterdam was like “dead microorganisms". First notice is the pungent smell. It's like rotten smell of protein. Since the river is polluted and nutrient rich, microorganisms are also rich. Compared to the Okinawa one, the smell is heavier. Smells do not lie. But once its first scent disappears, the warmth of sandalwood oil appears. 

Future plans 

This project was already getting attentions in the olfactory art scene. Especially an active curator in this scene, Caro Verbeek, showed her interest. I would like to find the venue for “premier” of this work.                                                                                       

In Delhi we (together with Aastha) are planning an exhibition with the result of our porject, with probably more olfactory works from me.  An alternative gallery KOHJ showed their interest already.  We have talked to The Dutch Embassy and The Japan Foundation about the idea, and they showed their interest to support the exhibition.  This will be happening in the year 2015.

 

 

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CREDITS

Centrum Beeldende Kunst Rotterdam O&O subsidy