Venice Biennale’s Korean Pavilion to be all about scents, memories, emotions

Jacob Fabricius, 2nd from left, speaks during a press briefing about the Korean Pavilion at the Sixtieth Venice Biennale in Seoul, Feb. 21. Yonhap

The Korean Pavilion of the Venice Biennale this year will center around the theme of scent to bring visitors on a “Korean Scent Journey,” a co-art director said Wednesday, an element that is invisible yet a very powerful sensation.”Scent is very powerful expression. It’s not visible with the eyes and it’s not something you listen to,” Jacob Fabricius said at a press briefing in Seoul on Wednesday.”But it’s something that you can’t avoid because you can’t avoid breathing the air that surrounds us, since it’s so present everywhere.”Fabricius, director at Art Hub Copenhagen who served as the art director of the 2020 Busan Biennale, is the first-ever foreign art curator of the Korean Pavilion.He is working together with Lee Seol-hui, the chief curator at Kunsthal Aarhus in Denmark, to curate the pavilion with works by multimedia and installation artist Koo Jeong A, a globally acclaimed artist known for her site-specific works that conjure up subjective memories through invisible elements, notably scents.

Koo is “one of the front-runners and one of the groundbreaking artists that have worked with scents since the mid-90s,” Fabricius said.One of the most amazing things about the artist, the Danish director said, is that she “does really large-scale installations, working in public spaces, but at the same time, she can manage to do very small, very intimate and very poetic installations.”The exhibition, titled “Odorama Cities,” will be comprised of five elements — a huge bronze sculpture, a wooden floor engraved with an infinity symbol, two large Mobius strips, a wall painting and 16 installation scents.For the project, the artist asked people around the world, including Korean adoptees and North Korean defectors living in South Korea, to share the scent memories they have of Korea. The survey was conducted from June 25 to Sept. 30 last year.Based on some 600 scent memories they received, the trio worked with a local cosmetics brand, Nonfiction, to create 17 scents, which will be unveiled at the pavilion during the biennale.The borderless, boundary-transcending nature of scents matches with the theme of this year’s biennale, Fabricius said, which is set to open April 20 under the theme 슬롯게이밍 of “Foreigners Everywhere.

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