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Scents of the Apocalypse

June 15, 2016

Scents of the Apocalypse, perfumes in glass droppers. Image courtesy of the artist. 


Emerging bay area artist and scholar Lindsay Tunkl employs our sensation of scent “to penetrate our being on a level that is beyond our control,” thusly, “unknown emotional landscapes are revealed” to the inhaler. Tunkl initiates the conversation by questioning, and ultimately answering what the apocalypse would smell like. Tunkl’s finely crafted perfumes come in four distinct scents: Drought, Asteroid Collision, Nuclear Blast, and Tsunami. By mixing scents composed of past associations, Tunkl literally sniffs out the future. Death is imminent, for both our bodies and, eventually, the planet. Our society and communities as we know them will inevitably cease to exist as we know them. In the words of the artist herself, “I have been researching and making work about the apocalypse for the past four years and it has led me to the fundamental belief exploration of the end is key to understanding humanity at large.” While these four apocalyptic scents are, indeed, strong enough to exist on their own, they are also a component of another, larger project carried out by Tunkl titled Pre-Apocalyptic Counseling. In this piece, the artist dually takes on the roles of performer and counselor to host private 50-minute long sessions inside the security of her SUV. During these performative counseling sessions, Tunkl and the participant in question discuss their “emotional relationship to the end of the world,” starting with the prompt of imagining the smell of an asteroid collision.

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