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For the 12th Biennial of Havana, the well-known artist Peter de Cupere created the work ‘The Smell of a Stranger’… And this work could well be the most discussed show of the Biennial. It is an olfactory work, but also an ultra innovative technological research about the future of our planet. Additionally it also has a political statement: namely a small jest towards the opening of the Cuban borders towards the United States.

Smell of a stranger 2

Through ‘Scent Engineering’ the artist changes the scent of 9 local Cuban plants and flowers. Peter chose especially this work to present in Cuba because Cuba still has a beautiful immaculate wildlife. Two years ago, he went together with Curator Sara Alonso Gómez, Bruno Devos and an aroma specialist of the Cuban army on a scouting trip into the forest to discover new scents.

Smell of a stranger

When one bends over to smell a flower, one usually expects to experience a pretty flowery bouquet scent. But this is not how Peter saw it!!! Because what you actually get are smells that conjure images of dead animals, sperm, inescapable smoke or putrid trash heaps…

That is exactly why he wants to make a statement with the work ‘The Smell of a Stranger’ to make the Cubans think about their future now that the borders with the United States have opened up.

Greetings from Rome! Yours, Fran