Scentbar: Fragrances for Troubled Times

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 – Saturday, October 6, 2007
Art Central
Part of

Renowned Winnipeg-based performance artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan presented a 4-day performance installation entitled Scentbar: Fragrances for Troubled Times. Set up in the atrium of Art Central (a downtown complex housing numerous commercial galleries), this mock-boutique installation served over 130 “clients” during its 4-day run. Visitors were invited to answer a series of interview questions about their memories, hopes, and fears. The results of these interviews were then used to create customized fragrances for each client. However, the spa-like atmosphere and clean aesthetic of the installation, were contrasted with “the promotional video of malodourous disasters, and by the product itself, which draws upon ambivalent memory-evoking contemporary scents such as rental car and light industry.”

In a collaboration that has spanned well over a decade, Winnipeg multi-disciplinary artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan have created a body of internationally acclaimed work that addresses feminist, lesbian, and social concerns with biting wit.

Alongside the performance, M:ST also commissioned and published an essay by local author Anthea Black to provide critical context and an in-depth response to the work.

Collaborators since 1989, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan are among Canada’s best-known performance artists. They were catapulted into the international spotlight in their 20s with the performance and film We’re Talking Vulva. Since then, their live work and videos have been exhibited in diverse venues as far-ranging as women's centres in Sri Lanka to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. This Winnipeg-based duo has created installations (such as Archaeology and You for the Royal Ontario Museum), public art pieces (such as One Gay City, the subject of a Manitoba Human Rights Commission challenge) and books (such as Bedtime Stories for the Edge of the World, Arbeiter Ring Press). To most, however, they are known simply as the Lesbian Rangers of Lesbian National Parks and Services. Their humourous, feminist and provocative work has been acclaimed as “one of the high-points of contemporary Canadian artistic production” (Border Crossings Magazine). Performance documentation and artifacts are held in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History and the Dia Art Foundation, among others. They have also curated for institutions including the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Centre and YYZ. Dempsey and Millan are the recipients of many awards, most proudly the Canadian Museums Association Award for Outstanding Publication and the Manitoba Arts Council Special Prize for Innovation and Excellence.

Scentbar: Fragrances for Troubled Times

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