Past Exhibition

Osmologies. Jo Burzynska

Hātarei 22 Hūrae -
Hātarei 2 Hepetema

Saturday 22 July -
Saturday 2 September


Research image courtesy of Jo Burzynska.

Research image courtesy of Jo Burzynska.

Odours are invested with cultural values and employed by society as a means of and model for defining and interacting with the world. The intimate, emotionally charged nature of the olfactory experience ensures that such value-coded odours are interiorized by the members of a society in a deeply personal way.” Constance Classen, David Howes and Anthony Synnott, Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell, Taylor & Francis, (1994), p. 3

If we inhale another’s memories, might we understand each other differently or perhaps more deeply? Osmologies brings together a series of olfactory ‘portraits’ drawn from inhabitants of the same Aotearoa city from a range of ethnic, sensory, gender and neurodiverse backgrounds. Using the intimate sense of smell, it invites an embodied transfer of personal and cultural sensory experiences mingling in the shared space of Blue Oyster. 

The memories blended within each of Jo Burzynska’s olfactory compositions expose histories less known, what is passed over when predominant, Western-centric biographical methods are used for documentation, such as writing and visual depiction. They also offer challenges to conventional views on how smell operates - its supposed objectivity and its inability to hold wider meanings. 

Burzynska’s olfactory artworks interact with interiors rather than the exteriors and surfaces picked up by visual sight. Resisting containment, they subtly mix with each other, making a larger, immaterial central work in which experiences coalesce. 

Jo Burzynska

Dr. Jo Burzynska is a multimedia artist, researcher and writer. Initially working in sound, over time her art practice has become increasingly multisensory - making work that combines sound, taste, touch and scents, often distilling them herself. Burzynska is engaged with research into sensory interactions and their creative application, using a practice she calls crossmodal art. This research is informed by collaborations with psychologists and sensory scientists, and was the focus of her practice-led doctoral research at the University of New South Wales.