Where Abstract Perfumery Meets Sculptural Still Life

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We spoke to artist and perfumer Andrea Maack, who is rejecting the traditions of scent making with her concept-driven olfaction, alongside a visual interpretation by Antje Peters

It was never Icelandic artist Andrea Maack’s intention to pursue the development of a perfume brand. But the nature of her practice – operating in the space between conceptual art and commercialism – naturally dictated that this is the olfactory path she should follow. “It wasn’t even a transitional process really; my work is both art and perfume at the same time, with fashion and beauty becoming subjects in themselves – and it’s always been this way,” she says. Her namesake company, Andrea Maack, was established in 2010 as a purely conceptual entity; an extension of her show at the Reykjavik Museum of Art that mused upon “what the future would smell like”. She explains that “scent is so often associated with nostalgia, but I was interested in looking forward. I have little curiosity in working with the past.”

Maack's newest scent, Craft, started off life in the same way, with the perfume forming part of a temporary gallery exhibition, and never designed to be worn as a personal fragrance. Composed of elements extracted from her Nordic surroundings, upon first spritz the finely diffused mist opens with a subtle metallic essence and leads through to middle notes of cedar wood (with the familiar base notes of patchouli combining with hints of black and white pepper on the dry down). Yet, it’s clear in her ambiguous branding that Maack intends for her scents to be an abstract experience for the wearer, remarking upon the fact that she “never wanted to include an indication of what is contained in the perfume within their names,” finding that particular approach to scent making “slightly old fashioned”.

Craft’s sculptural glass bottle is inspired by the permanence of black obsidian rock and yet again serves to highlight one of the core concerns running throughout Maack’s practice: a relationship between the ephemeral and the concrete. “My scents often start out as drawings,” she explains. “It’s interesting that people who are fans of my work are now re-interpreting the perfumes through sketches – inverting that process.” Similarly, photographer Antje Peters has transformed the elements of Craft into three sculptural still lifes for AnOther, joining Andrea’s conceptual conversation on how the transient nature of a perfume sprayed into the air or onto a body can sit alongside material forms.