31 Oct 2021 / 01 Oct 2021

Oswaldo Maciá: New Cartographies Of Smell Migration | Santa Fe

SITE Santa Fe is pleased to introduce New Cartographies Of Smell Migration | Santa Fe, a multi-sensory sculptural installation by Colombian artist Oswaldo Maciá. This immersive installation celebrates movement and migration through sound, smell, and sight.

Set among hand painted maps annotated with notes on the cultural history and biological role of smell, this olfactory-acoustic sculpture diffuses the fragrance of tree resins sourced from forests in El Salvador and Honduras. These resins have played major cultural, religious, and medicinal roles among Indigenous peoples of the Americas since time immemorial, and have been exported globally since the 16th century. The accompanying audio sculpture features a blend of sounds including wind recorded in various deserts around the world and insects from the Choco region rainforests of Colombia.

Oswaldo Maciá creates olfactory-acoustic sculptures responding to time, place and the ever-changing nature of our planet. Stimulating questions about how we find our place in the world, Maciá’s immersive scenarios of sound and smell are held in international art collections and have been exhibited globally, including at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Manifesta 9, Venice Biennial, Daros Latinamerica, Riga Biennial, MOCO Montpellier Contemporain, and Porto Alegre Biennial. Maciá won the Golden Pear at the 2018 Art & Olfaction Awards for his experimental work with scent; in 2015 was awarded a public commission for the city of Bogotá, creating the first public sound sculpture in the southern hemisphere; and in 2011 received the prestigious first prize at the 2011 Bienal de Cuenca, Ecuador. Maciá was born in the Caribbean city of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. He lives and works in London and New Mexico. Focusing on migration and cross-pollination, Maciá is currently working on a major site-specific work for the fortified walls of his home city of Cartagena de Indias and on new commissions with Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany and Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art in Gdańsk, Poland.

Artist Statement & Manifesto

Artist Statement
My artworks cannot give any solutions to known problems, but they can shape new questions and new problems. My sculptural compositions are formed from images, objects, sounds, and smells. Whether on paper, an object, or a moving or still image, the works operate as sculptures. Sometimes they are scenarios: they occupy space, pulling and pushing all that surrounds them for their own ends. Sculpture is concerned with the relationships people have to the space and volumes that form the world we experience. In utilizing a wider perceptual range my work opens itself to subjectivity over objectivity, experience over knowledge.
– Oswaldo Maciá 2021

Manifesto for olfactory-acoustic sculpture
(A guide to creating uncomfortable questions)
As humans we like to think we know. The expression ‘I know’ is comfortable to say. Not knowing is uncomfortable. Not knowing is the beginning of a useful problem.

I create questions that cannot be dispatched, or rendered pointless, with an ‘I know.’ This is an expression that kills questions; it is the antithesis of creativity or progress.

Our primary sense of vision must be stepped aside from in order to move away from all the ‘I knows.’ The visual world is saturated with facile symbolism that is easily recognized and talked about ‘knowingly.’ Vision is full of ‘I know.’

The visual elements of my work are framing devices, plinths holding up the work to enable it to be experienced, notations formed from research. My sculpture fills space with volumes of sound and smell.

Noise is a sound yet to be placed within language. The distinction between noise and sound is entirely dependent on knowledge. Often the noises in my acoustic compositions are animal calls. Those who study bioacoustics might recognise them, and know them as sounds.

Smell must make you stop and think. Perfume refers to a smell that has been classified by
language. The isolated olfactory molecules, or ‘notes’, of my compositions are unfamiliar and lie outside of language.

Neither my sound nor my smell compositions respond to, or are defined by, linguistic references. They are outside of assumptions.

My titles are not descriptive; they are material and tactile elements of the composition and serve to frame the work. They are coordinates; they set the key for the register of perception. The elements of my sculptures create scenarios where perception tests the limit of knowledge.
– Oswaldo Maciá 1994 – 2021

Special Thanks to Ricardo Moya, Senior Perfumer, International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.