Law & Odor – Illegal Scents

Odorama 41 with Frank Bloem, Inger Leemans, Ton van Harreveld, Gwen van der Zwan and Laura Burgers

16 Sep 2020

Smell is a powerful tool that can tell us when we should mistrust a situation, or when we should suspect something. In Law & Odor - Illegal scents we research into the diverse world of scent in relation to the law.

Think of scent-traces that can be found on a crime scene. What does blood smell like? Is it complicated to erase the scent of evidence? and can you smell it when your neighbor is running an XTC lab?

Laws and restrictions of smell are also essential to make our cities liveable. We all prefer to live in a city that does not stink, but how far are we willing to go? Looking at the numerous cases of neighbors fighting about odor nuisance, it becomes clear that we often disagree on this topic. Do you think you are allowed to forbid your renters in their contract to cook with smelly spices? And can someone get a fine because he has a stinking pet? 

In this evening we discover what you are not allowed to do with smells, we explore the boundaries of illegal scents, and ask ourselves if we actually have the right to stink.

Tickets / Facebook


Dirty Amsterdam canal - Oudezijds Achterburgwal 17 t/m 39A (links)(vlnr.) Source: Amsterdam City Archive

Gwen Van der Zwan - The smell of blood

Gwen van der Zwan is an artist who researched into crime scenes and the body fluids that we see there. She followed companies that clean contaminated places and has witnessed situations in which walls had to be deconstructed in order to remove smells. Gwen will talk about blood. Are we allowed to consume blood or other human secretions, and can we use this in art?


08-11-2019 Asparagus and some optional blood - Course 6 - During the The Eating of Humans, guests could experience how tasty humans can be. Chef Bryce Steba created a dinner experience where guests were invited to add their own blood to their meal. With this dinner we asked ourselves, why is it ok to massively slaughter animals but we can't fathom the idea of eating a little bit of human? 

Ton van Harreveld: Undesirable smells 

Ton van Harreveld is the founder of Odornet, a business that deals with measuring odor intensity and stench pollution.He comes to talk about laws for stench, the possibility of tracing stench and how te reduce it. His analogue way of working is remarkable.


Assessment of air quality and odour related issues - Is there something in the air? When planning a new industrial facility, you have to access how it will affect the local air quality and odour related issues

Inger Leemans: The stinking city

Stench pollution has always been a part of our society. In Historical Amsterdam, certain smelly industries were obligated to stay in indicated parts of town, to reduce and limit its smell in the rest of the city. Nowadays we still have laws that regulate smells in big cities. 

Inger Leemans is a Professor of Cultural History at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. She will come to talk about laws of smell in the history of Amsterdam and explain how assigning industries to a certain part of town can help to create a cleaner city. 

Laura Burgers : The right to stink

Laura Burgers is a lawyer, themes in her field of expertise are civil law, environmental ethics, and philosophy of law on democracy and rule of law. She will tell about her own research a will address some interesting cases concerning smell in civil law. She will finally answer the question:
Do we have the right to stink?


Odorama 41: Illegal Scents – Law & Odor
Wednesday, the 16th of September
Start 20:00

Mediamatic Biotoop, Dijksgracht 6, Amsterdam. Or via Instagram live with a scent-kit sent to your home.

Tickets: Full price €12,50 | Student / Artist / Stadspas €8,75* (incl. €1,- administration costs) | Livestream ticket, including a sample kit sent to your home €12,50.

You can buy a Livestream ticket until Monday, September 14th, 2 pm. Then we have enough time to send you a sample kit. The Livestream will be available to anyone on Instagram. 

*We give a discount to students and artists. If this applies to you we will ask to see your kvk nr/portfolio or student card for this option. For questions please send an email to

Follow online

With the guidelines of our government in mind, fewer people are allowed on site. Therefore you can follow this lecture also online via Instagram live. The bodily experience that is common to our Odorama lecture will not get lost! We just send the flavours and smells to you in a sample kit. If you buy a Livestream ticket for this event before Monday the 14th of September, we will make sure you get the sample kit to your home before the lecture.