The Anthropology Edition

Odorama 10 - with Job Koelewijn, Daan Kamps and Dr. Yolande van Ede

6 Oct 2016

Our perception of scent is culturally determined. If you think how your childhood smelled it would probably be lily-of-the-valley whereas for South Americans it would be the smell of lemons. Sensory Anthropology researches the sensory hierarchy of different cultures. We are used to see and hear but could smell be an essential carrier of information? And can smell help us getting a better understanding of different traditions and rituals?

Odorama is a collaboration between Mediamatic and Caro Verbeek.

Tickets / Facebook


Bouillon Boek - Untitled. A wall filled with bouillon blocks surrounded by poetry. Job Koelewijn

Job Koelewijn

Renowned Dutch artist Job Koelewijn works as conceptual artist, sculptor, installation artist, performance artist, and photographer. Scent plays an important role in his oeuvre. One of his repeatedly used aroma’s is eucalyptus. This specific scent reminds him of Vicks Vaporub; a product generally used for respiratory problems and in his family associated to his younger brother’s health problems. In ‘Nursery Piece’ for example, pages of Spinoza’s hermetic philosophical work ‘De Ethica’ or spread on the floor and covered with sand madalas, which requires a lot of patience to create. This reflects the patience needed for understanding the complicated book he studied himself while smelling eucalyptus. Other aroma’s from his olfactory palette include bouillon (a book by Koelewijn and Irma Boom smelling of broth) and baby powder. His sweet-scented installation ‘Baby Powder Room’ will soon be on display at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.

During Odorama-the Anthropology Edition Koelewijn will elaborate on the role scent and embodied metaphors play throughout his work. He will demonstrate that both (sub-)culture and individual associations determine how we perceive specific scents.


Spraying scents during Job Koelewijn's talk. - Anisa Xhomaqi


Nursery Piece - Olfactory installation by Job Koelewijn. Job Koelewijn


Broken White - Scented installation by Job Koelewijn at De Paviljoens, Almere. - 2004 Job Koelewijn

Daan Kamps

Daan Kamps is part of an anthropological research group called Chemical Youth at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, led by Professor Anita Hardon. For three years, he has been researching youths/young adults and their practical relationships with certain chemicals. His latest study concerns a Chinese liniment called Shiling Oil, which is a popular household phenomenon in Suriname.

For Odorama, he will present his (forthcoming) paper called Mediation through olfaction: Shiling Oil sniffing practices among youths in Paramaribo. The role that olfactory stimulation plays in navigating our everyday lives is oftentimes underestimated, though scents are permeating our every move. The widespread practice of sniffing Shiling Oil gives way to diverse ways of handling spaces, local environments, situations or even relationships. Hereby an analysis of the local landscape within which the pungent liquid becomes good, bad, pleasurable, addictive, or calming - but most of all produces general well-being - is presented. Whereas the sense of smell can be used to scan environments, the act of sniffing Shilling Oil allows its users to manipulate and shape their surroundings, as well as their place in it. Such manipulation by inhaling is significantly intertwined with local norms, concerns, aesthetics and values, including drug discourses that condemn (daily) habitual Shiling Oil use.


Daan Kamps at Odorama - Daan Kamps explains his research on shinning oil during Odorama: The Anthropology Edition Anisa Xhomaqi

With: Daan Kamps

Dr. Yolanda van Ede

What role has smell been playing in this history? How did we get by the particular sensory order that is current in the western world? And how is its coming into being linked to a search for ‘true’ knowledge? Yolanda van Ede is senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Amsterdam. She has written a textbook on the anthropology of the senses and has published several articles on sense and skill. Currently she is exploring kinesthesia as cultural marker. She also studies at the Gerrit Rietveld academy, dogtime.


Dr.Yolanda van Ede speaking in front of public - Dr.Yolanda van Ede speaking in front of the public at Mediamatic Odorama The Anthropology Edition. Anisa Xhomaqi

Odorama: The Anthropology Edition
Thursday 6 October, 20:30
Tickets: Students €5,- / Pre-sale €7,50 / Door €10,-

Please note: this event is given in English.
Mediamatic Biotoop, Dijspark 6, Amsterdam