Scentbar: Fragrances for Troubled Times

Festivals: M:ST 3.5.

Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan (Winnipeg)

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.