RE________ by Sissel Tolaas

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania presents the first major US exhibition dedicated to smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas. Kvadrat is proud to support the exhibition with 100 meters of Dive.

According to Sissel Tolaas, smell is a vital yet often overlooked tool for communication. For over 25 years, she has been collecting and mapping smells from around the world and built multiple archives of smell recordings, consisting of around ten-thousand smell molecules and smell constructs.

The exhibition at ICA is comprised of 20 works that use smell to consider a broad range of pressing issues, including climate change, evolution, geopolitics and anthropology. Tolaas rethinks, reconstructs, revisits, and reacts to these issues in her practice through her intangible, but highly sensory medium. Recognizing that smell as a sense has the greatest capacity to instantly evoke memory and emotion, Tolaas’ work powerfully explores the concept of experience, of the unknown and even the (un)pleasantly familiar.

For Tolaas, the exhibition has neither instructions nor explanations, and the choice of how to experience the exhibition rests entirely with the visitors. Inviting visitors to use all of their senses, engage with the works on a physical and visceral level, and experience the show with their whole body and mind, the exhibition becomes a playground for everyone and organically generates joy and engagement.


Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
118 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

16 September – 30 December 2022
Wednesday – Sunday, 12 – 6pm


About Sissel Tolaas
Sissel Tolaas is an artist and smell researcher whose nearly 30-year practice and study of the impact of smells draws upon her background in chemistry, mathematics, linguistics and art. Working at the forefront of her field, her projects have been shown at the Venice Biennale, the Gwanju Biennale, MoMa New York, the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia, the Dia Art Foundation New York, and the Tate Modern London, among others. In 2004, she established the Smell RE-SearchLab Berlin with support from IFF Inc. She has worked with universities, research institutes, and companies all over the world.

About ICA
The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania is a non-collection institution presenting interdisciplinary exhibitions and programs at the forefront of contemporary practice. Through its exhibitions, commissions, special projects, publications, and programs, the ICA serves as a laboratory for new artistic and curatorial practices, supporting the production of urgent work and providing a critical platform for an exchange of ideas on art and society.

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