Es-senze at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice

The innovative exhibition of works by contemporary artists created with perfumes

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
Es-senze at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice — Veneto Secrets

In Venice, a unique exhibition in which 12 contemporary artists have created installations designed to interpret today's world through a perfume.

Among the most original and entertaining collateral events of the Art Biennale, scheduled in Venice until November 27, 2022, we find Es-senze, the exhibition set up at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo, home to the Center for the History of Textile, Costume and Perfume, and promoted by the perfume houses Mavive, ambassador, especially with the brand The Merchant of Venice, of the Venetian perfumery art and its ancient recipes, with the collaboration of the Fondazione Musei Civici.

An innovative exhibition for Italy that sees artists create by interacting with perfume, Es-senze was curated by Pier Paolo Pancotto who involved 12 important exponents of contemporary art who created as many works starting from an “olfactory” idea, with the support of famous perfumers noses.

Es-senze at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice — Veneto Secrets
Es-senze at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice — Veneto Secrets

Perfumery is often an art of illusion; on display you will find the fragrance of a fresh rose that awakens memories of spring rose gardens, but also the smell of power and that of the Venice Lagoon. Just many different ways to reflect on today through a perfume.

Thus 12 of the rooms of the magnificent Palazzo Mocenigo, dating back to the 16th century, renovated in the 17th century by the Mocenigo family who lived there until 1945 when it was donated to the Municipality of Venice, are each dedicated to an artistMircea Cantor, Mateusz Choróbski, Jason Dodge , Bruna Esposito, Eva Marisaldi, Florian Mermin, Giuseppe Penone, Paola Pivi, Namsal Siedlecki, Achraf Touloub, Nico Vascellari and Luca Vitone – who played on the use of smell.

A multisensory journey through installations representing various forms of contemporary art, immersed in contrast in the beauty of the original furnishings of the ancient patrician palace. Some examples?

One of the iconic fragrances of The Merchant of Venice, Rosa Moceniga, cultivated by the Mocenigo family in the historic residence of Alvisopoli, was used by the Milanese artist Paola Pivi, famous for her colorful feather bears, who impregnated one of her mini sofa, resulting in a metamorphosis capable of increasing its attractiveness, thus placing art and design in dialogue.

Es-senze at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice — Veneto Secrets

Are you curious to find out what is the perfume of power? The Genoese artist Luca Vitone thought of it in collaboration with Maria Candida Gentile. In Imperium, they have recreated it by putting together fragrances that are initially attractive but then change into nauseating notes that saturate the surrounding space. A metaphor of absolute power that suffocates everything around it.

The Vittorio Veneto’s artist Nico Vascellari, also known for his collaborations with Fendi and one of the most famous performers of the moment, also acclaimed by Marina Abramović, created Spirit, a metaphor for a portal towards the world of that underground culture that has always nourished his research. To underline this aspect there is the presence, on the manhole, of the Teen Spirit deodorant stick that covers it entirely in homage to the song Smells Like Teen Spirit published in 1991 by Nirvana as the first extract from the Nevermind album.

Es-senze at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice — Veneto Secrets

The exhibition closes with the poster “Futurist flora and plastic equivalents of artificial odors” drawn up in November 1924 by the painter, advertiser and futurist aviator Fedele Azari for which, based on an idea by Nicola Pozzani, Creative Director of Mavive, a fragrance homage to the artificial odors, the Petroleum Flower which ironically expresses the contrast between the vision of the future based on the importance that oil had at the beginning of the 20th century and the way we live and conceive of black gold today, a century later.

A truly intelligent coup de théâtre finale for one of the most eccentric and interesting exhibitions of the moment that also offers the opportunity to retrace, through the permanent rooms of the museum, the history of perfume in Venice – from the reconstruction of the laboratory of a perfumer’s of the ‘500, to the maps of the “Vie delle Spezie” up to being able to experience the great “families” from which perfumes are born – letting oneself be captivated by a magic, that of the creation of fragrances, which never ceases to make us dream.

Es-senze at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice — Veneto Secrets

If you are curious to find out more, you can visit the Venetian flagship stores of The Merchant of Venice or participate in one of the Perfume Workshops held at the Palazzo Mocenigo Museum or Studium, the new bookshop with olfactory library a stone’s throw from Piazza Saint Mark.

Useful Info

Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo
Centro Studi di Storia del Tessuto, del Costume e del Profumo
Santa Croce 1992
30135 Venezia
Tel. +39 041 721798

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