Artwork By Brazilian Explores Fragrances Of Desert

(MENAFN- Brazil-Arab News Agency (ANBA)) São Paulo – The vastness of the desert sand and dunes in AIUla, a city located in North Saudi Arabia, became an open pavilion of exhibition Desert X AlUla – on until 23 March. There artists were challenged – sometimes by themselves – to create art installations and works in the desert. With the title“In the Presence of Absence” and curated by Brazil's Marcello Dantas alongside Oxford, UK-based Lebanese Maya El Khalil, the festival features an installation by a Brazilian artist, Karola Braga (pictured).

Amid works seeking to complement, dialogue or juxtapose themselves to the harshness of the desert, Braga explored fragrances and scents of a region that became the birthplace of the spice trade through the incense route. An olfactory artist and researcher, Braga realized immediately that she had no way to compete with the prominence of a desert, but by creating installation Sfumato, she sought to bring to mind the memories that scents can bring.

Giant incense burner takes art to the desert

“When you deal with the sheer scale of the desert, it is always the protagonist. So I sought to find in the visual and structural part – the giant incense burner – a maximum integration with the landscape in a bid to maintain the aroma as the work's main focus,” she told ANBA.

Some of the perfumes that the incense launches into the air are symbolic of the region, like myrrh and frankincense. An olfactory scholar, Braga says the scents are able to materialize and bring back memories – whether it is the smell of a place, a flower, or a product.“When I catch a smell, depending on where I am, what does this smell means in that culture? That's what I try to explore as an artist, besides creating these memories, recreating olfactory environments. It was amazing to do this work there, do the research, retrace the incense route,” she says.

Desert X was founded in California in 2017, and since then, it has every two years invited artists to create projects that interact with the desert. The festival has had editions in the Coachella Valley, California, and AIUla. This year, besides Braga, the festival features projects by artists from South Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Mexico, Lebanon, Italy, Ghana, Iraq, as well as a French Algerian. For his part, Dantas has curated other exhibitions in Brazil, including as art director of Japan House and Museum of Portuguese Language in São Paulo, where the artist's studio is as well.

Braga recalls that the opportunity to participate in Desert X arose after Dantas and she met at an olfactory art award ceremony in Los Angeles, United States, in 2023.“I asked him to let me 'perfume' the desert,” she recalls. Following that meeting, she was challenged to create a project“overnight.” Since the incense route is part of her academic works and professional life, she managed to meet the challenge on time.

Amid discussions and ideas with Dantas, Braga was in AIUla last June and again for a month from January to February this year. She will go back there in early March, when she will give a workshop on this work.“They are investing heavily in tourism, hotels, and I find it very interesting that they are also investing in culture. There are plans to open museums, cultural institutions. I think it is amazing,” she says. Find out more on Desert X .

Translation by Guilherme Miranda

Courtesy/The Royal Commission for AlUla Courtesy/The Royal Commission for AlUla

The post Artwork by Brazilian explores fragrances of desert appeared first on Agência de Notícias Brasil-Árabe .


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