Artwork: 2666 by Anicka Yi, 2015. Photo: Philipp Hänger. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.
Artwork: 2666 by Anicka Yi, 2015. Photo: Philipp Hänger. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.

Meet the Artist Who Makes Smelly Art from Sweat and Bacteria

Artwork: 2666 by Anicka Yi, 2015. Photo: Philipp Hänger. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.
Artwork: 2666 by Anicka Yi, 2015. Photo: Philipp Hänger. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.

Anicka Yi creates art that’s meant to be seen and smelled. WIRED recently profiled the New York-based conceptual artist, whose installations have featured odiferous materials like olive oil, moss, black tea, dried shrimp, and even bacteria samples taken from her circle of friends and acquaintances. Yi uses these scents to elicit memories or emotions. And the artist’s first major U.S. museum show, which opens April 21 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, may be her smelliest yet.

Yi was recently awarded the 2016 Hugo Boss Prize, a prestigious biennial award for contemporary art granted by the Guggenheim, which includes a solo show at the museum. Yi’s upcoming exhibition, called “Anicka Yi, Life Is Cheap,” features pieces inspired by sweaty armpits, among other works. She teamed up with scientists to make scents based on the chemical compounds of human sweat; they waft alongside sculptures made from live bacteria.

Yi collects the sweat and bacteria samples herself. Biologists cultivate the bacteria by feeding it nutrients, and maintaining optimal growth temperatures. Once her “living sculptures” are grown, Yi displays them in petri dish-inspired cases made from plexiglass and resin. As for the artist’s "Eau de Armpit," a forensic scientist uses chromatography to break each sweat sample down into chemical compounds. Then, Yi collaborates with a Paris-based perfumer to turn the compounds into scents.

In addition to artworks that conjure up images of sweaty human bodies, Yi’s upcoming Guggenheim exhibition will also feature pieces made from tempura-fried flowers and a 3D video called The Flavor Genome, which touches on motifs in Yi’s work, including “scent, both natural and artificial, the bacterial, perishability, hybridization, mutation, and genetic modification, as well as the bureaucratization of the body,” as writer Chris Sharpe explains for Cura magazine [PDF].

And keeping with the theme, most of these works can be experienced with the eyes and the nose. "The primacy of sight and vision over all of the other senses doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me," Yi explains in a video produced by the Guggenheim Museum. "I was not only trying to critique it but also trying to offer different alternatives, and I think we could learn a lot more from tapping into our other senses and cultivating our other senses."

You can view some of Yi's works below, but if you want to smell them, you'll have to swing by the Guggenheim before her exhibition ends on July 5, 2017.

Anicka Yi
2666, 2015
Bacteria, nutrient agar, Plexiglas, 24 x 20 x 4 inches
Courtesy of 47 Canal, New York and Kunsthalle Basel
Photo: Philipp Hänger

Anicka Yi
Sister, 2011
Tempura fried flowers, cotton turtleneck, approximately 41 x 19 x 7 in
Courtesy of 47 Canal, New York
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anicka Yi
Installation view: 7,070,430K of Digital Spit, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, 2015
Courtesy 47 Canal, New York, and Kunsthalle Basel, Basel
Photo: Philipp Hänger

Anicka Yi
The Possibility of an Island III, 2012
Custom glass perfume bottle, saline water, colored contact lenses, vinyl tubing, air pump, 132.08 x 35.56 x 35.56 cm
Courtesy of 47 Canal, New York.
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anicka Yi
Installation view: Jungle Stripe, Fridericianum, Kasse, 2016
Image courtesy of the artist, 47 Canal, New York, and Fridericianum, Kassel.
Photo: Fabian Frinzel
Anicka Yi
Installation view: Jungle Stripe, Fridericianum, Kasse, 2016
Image courtesy of the artist, 47 Canal, New York, and Fridericianum, Kassel.
Photo: Fabian Frinzel
Anicka Yi
Installation view: Jungle Stripe, Fridericianum, Kasse, 2016
Image courtesy of the artist, 47 Canal, New York, and Fridericianum, Kassel.
Photo: Fabian Frinzel
Anicka Yi
Search Image, 2016
Taxidermy animal, silicone, hardware, 89.99 x 59.99 x 89.99 cm
Image courtesy of the artist, 47 Canal, New York, and Fridericianum, Kassel.
Photo: Fabian Frinzel

Anicka Yi
The Flavor Genome, 2016
Single-channel 3D video
Image courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York

Anicka Yi
The Flavor Genome, 2016
Single-channel 3D video
Image courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York

[h/t WIRED]

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Sophie Gamand
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This Photographer Is Changing People's Perceptions of Pit Bulls, One Flower Crown at a Time
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand

Like many people, Sophie Gamand wasn’t always the biggest fan of pit bulls. As a volunteer photographer for animal shelters, she used to tense up any time she saw one.

And then something changed. In 2014, the New York-based photographer decided to confront her fear and take on a project that would force her to interact with pit bulls, My Modern Met reports. Initially, she wanted to see for herself if pit bulls were really as dangerous as people claim they are, and what she learned surprised her.

She “discovered the sweet and gentle nature of pit bulls, and how obedient and eager to please they are,” Gamand tells Mental Floss. “They are goofy, loving, and very attached to people.”

Equipped with her new mindset, she decided to photograph the dogs individually with colorful flower crowns adorning their heads in hopes of challenging the public's perception of pit bulls. And it worked.

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

Gamand says animal shelter staff often tell her that her photos, which she posts on social media with a brief description of each dog's personality, have saved countless dogs from being euthanized and have helped many others find forever homes. “They have helped dogs get adopted who had had zero interest for months or even years,” she says.

Over the last few years, she has photographed over 400 pit bulls, and her images will be published in a forthcoming coffee table book titled Pit Bull Flower Power: The Book. It will be released in October for Pit Bull Awareness Month.

She says the stereotype of pit bulls being overly aggressive is “completely unfounded,” adding that genetics have little to no influence on a dog’s personality. What makes the difference, though, is proper care and training, which is why she’s dedicating her life’s work to helping the dogs find loving homes.

Plus, the dogs love the photo shoots. "These are all shelter dogs who spend most of their time in a cage," Gamand says. "They are so happy for all the attention, treats, and love they get on the shoot. They love nothing more than to be good boys and girls—learning tricks, sitting to get a cookie. It’s their special moment. Each shoot is a team effort between the handler, the dog, and myself."

Her photos have spread far and wide via social media, and she now receives requests to visit animal shelters all over the world, from India to Kuwait to China. Prior to Pit Bull Flower Power, Gamand’s first book, Wet Dog—which features, you guessed it, adorable dripping dogs—was published in 2015.

Keep scrolling to see more of Gamand's Flower Power series, and check out this project and others on her Instagram page and website.

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

[h/t My Modern Met]

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Christie's
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A Rare Copy of Audubon's Birds of America Could Break Records at Auction
Christie's
Christie's

American artist and naturalist John James Audubon published The Birds of America in the first half of the 19th century, and his massive “double-elephant” folio of life-size bird illustrations remains one of the most ambitious nature books ever produced. On June 14, a rare edition of the four-book set is hitting the auction block, and it's expected to fetch up to $12 million—more than any Audubon book ever sold.

This edition of The Birds of America was owned by the dukes of Portland from around 1839 to 2012. Because it was stored on the shelves of the family's Nottinghamshire, England estate for nearly a century, the set's prints of watercolor drawings have remained remarkably well-preserved.

In 2012, the copy was auctioned off to philanthropist and businessman Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. for nearly $8 million. Knobloch donated the books to the Knobloch Family Foundation (KFF) before his death in 2016. Now, the KFF is sending the books to auction once again. This time, all proceeds of the sale will go to nature conservation.

Set of red leather-bound books.

New York City auction house Christie's describes the set in a listing as "among the finest copies in private hands of this icon of American art, and the finest color-plate book ever produced." Each of the 435 double-elephant folio pages measures 39.5 inches by 26.5 inches, the largest sheets Audubon could get his hands on at the time, and they feature 1037 birds from 500 species. The books are bound in red Moroccan leather with gold detailing on the borders and spines. The four-volume set also comes with the Ornithological Biography, a collection of five books describing the specimens in The Birds of America and their habits.

Christie's estimates the set will sell for $8 million to $12 million when the final bid is placed later this month. To date, the most expensive copy of The Birds of America was a first edition acquired from Sotheby's in London for $11.5 million. That sale also broke the record for the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction, a record held until 2013.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American bird.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American birds.

All images courtesy of Christie's

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