News Release

First major US exhibition of work by interdisciplinary Norwegian-born artist Sissel Tolaas opens at ICA on September 16

Using the building’s architecture to create an olfactory landscape of experiences, Tolaas debuts her most ambitious and evocative work to date.
August 15, 2022
Philadelphia, PA

The first major US exhibition dedicated to smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas opens at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania this fall. Over the course of the past 25 years, Tolaas has developed an artistic and scientific practice using smell as her primary medium, composing provocative smells to activate memory, recreate place and time, capture seasonality and arouse emotional and intellectual responses. The exhibition Sissel Tolaas: RE________, exemplifies the breadth of this complex yet highly researched, direct and intuitive practice. Opening on September 16, RE________ is on view through December 30, 2022.

The exhibition 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. Between each “situation,” or project throughout the exhibition, Tolaas encourages visitors to reflect on their body and the air they breathe, focus on new impressions and revisit old ones. Recognizing that smell as a sense has the greatest capacity to instantly evoke memory and emotion, Tolaas’s work powerfully explores the concept of experience, of the unknown and even the (un)pleasantly familiar.

To read the full press release, click the link above.