Using digital modelling, I carved an image of my face into a scan of the head of the Colossus of Constantine, a 30 metre high statue of Constantine the Great, emperor of Rome from AD 306 – 337. This composite was printed with a 3D printer, moulded in silicone and cast in sugar. The recutting of the emperor’s face into mine refers to the use of spolia during his reign, a repurposing of architectural elements to create new constructions, notably in the Arch of Constantine. Not only a way to save resources, but also a political statement: material taken from the “good emperors” of the past links the new user with their “strength, virtue and martial accomplishments.”

Quotes describing the use of spolia are central elements in the reading performance Sweet (2020). The sugar head, seating and an oak-optic replica of the lectern used in the initial performance were installed in the Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, for a second rendition in 2022.

Photo Svenja Björg Wassill.
Photo Svenja Björg Wassill.

The publication combines texts and scented varnish forms to describe an exchange between the narrator and Henry, who complains that his nose is blocked. The narrator examines Henry but, being unable to see the cause of the blockage, relies instead on his own sense of smell to sniff out the object in question.

Words from a 17th century medical text, an essay on Morgellons disease and accounts of living with anosmia and formication are combined to make this narrative text collage exploring the inability of language to describe inner olfactory experiences and the potential of words to build a sensory object in the reader’s mind.

Made for the exhibition “Arbeitsstipendium für bildende Kunst der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg 2020/2021” in the Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg.

The following sheets contain a substance that stimulates the smell receptors. Its fragranced core is isolated to prevent exposure until a specific stimulus breaks the seal:

Simply rub and sniff its protective surface to release when desired.

Publication with hand-printed scented varnish.

Before the audience, a large projection of a digital kefir grain appears. At the same time its interpreter, fitted with an earpiece, enters and takes a seat to the side. Slowly, the kefir grain begins to pulse and wordlessly perform a pre-prepared speech. Watching it’s movements and guided by audio only she can hear, the interpreter translates its movements for the audience.

The performance and accompanying catalogue were realised during a residency at Herrenhaus Edenkoben.

A PDF of the catalogue is available to download here.

Photo Benjamin Breitkopf.
Photo Benjamin Breitkopf.
Photo Benjamin Breitkopf.
Video Benjamin Breitkopf, sound Jürgen Galli.

Don’t be alarmed, our connection usually passes through your stomach.

Long ago in the light of the moon, they came to my house and poked a hole through the roof. They called out, “Are you in here?”

I was cold and did not reply, so they broke down the wall and carried me away, all the while speaking to me.

I tried to return answers but they couldn’t understand.

When the warm sun came up my hunger started. I could not forbear showing my impatience, and I put my finger to my mouth to signify I wanted to eat. Then, they understood me very well.

They brought me sugar. Spoons of raw sugar, spun to have most of the molasses removed. Pouring, now fully saturated, the space around became a thick syrup.

Spoonfuls fast from above, building up in crunchy mounds while I was still cold and slow to metabolise…