Saturday, March 9, 2013

When Olfactory Artists Attack



By now we’ve all seen the picture of Lernert Engelberts and Sander Plug standing next to the thousand-plus dram samples of perfume—all released in 2012—that they dumped into a single flask and labeled “Everything.” It’s art, at least as currently defined.

It’s also troubling for anyone who loves perfume.

The New York Times, ever anxious to be seen as hip, gives this pair of Dutch putzes exactly the supportive exposure they’re after (fragrance advertisers be damned). The headline—“When Everything Smells Bad”—is a typically elephantine Timesian attempt to be cute. [“Everything,” get it?]

Even the photo caption—“The masks are to protect their noses, not their identities.”—is a gratuitous effort to play along with the stunt: the DPs are wearing dust masks which don’t do a bit of good protecting against smells.

As if the point of childishly mixing 1,400 perfume samples together isn’t clear enough, the Times hastens to spell it out for you:
“Our point is, why do you need nearly 1,400 new scents in one year?” Mr. Engelberts said, using a figure cited by Basenotes, an online fragrance forum.
One can almost hear tongues clucking all over the Upper West Side: “So wasteful!” “Marketing run amuck!” “Greedy capitalists!” Really? Try it on with products favored on the UWS:
“Our point is, why do you need nearly ten new Volvos in one year?”

 “Our point is, why do you need nearly 100 new artisanal organic goat cheeses in one year?”

“Our point is, why do you need nearly 350 new pinot noirs in one year?”
My point is, why do we need another trivial Marxist cultural critique masquerading as art?

4 comments:

Unknown said...

Touché, Avery!

I ask the same question (mutatis mutandis) whenever anyone claims that "there are too many blogs," "too many books," "too many X, Y, or Z"--well, except in those cases where X, Y, and Z threaten human life and liberty...

Perfumes? Don't think so.

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

Sorry not to agree with you baby!
Loved it, loved it and loved it! I wish I had 5 bottles of EVERYTHING!
As per the Dutch...all the prizes they got say they are not so putsy..or Potzy, as we say in Yiddish...
To be in the NYT - well...NYT is the best reference for anything related to fragrances, is it? you have been trying to prove for quite a while now...

When you say "OUR" point is...who are the other people besides you darling? Just curious...

and yes, there are too many of a lot of things...

Avery Gilbert said...

+ Q Perfume Blog:

I'm having a hard time following you. Maybe I need more coffee . . .

You want 5 bottles of everything launched last year or 5 bottles of Dutch putz "Everything"?

Perfumeries have a "melange bucket" where they dump the leftover trials, etc. It literally smells like everything or perhaps like "olfactory white noise." Sometimes it gets sold as fragrance for industrial floor polish, etc. Is THAT what you want?

Anyway, the "our" is the voice of the DPs, not me.

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

I have an idea how this project smells because my husband once worked in a fragrance house. So everyday when he came back from work, I made him undress to enter to the house and put his clothes in a plastic bag because they smelled like Everything. He ran to insert the clothes in the washing machine and after to the shower. Just after all that I would consider saying hello to him and have him around the house. That said, yes I wish to have 5l of that to use it one day...