Artist, researcher and provocateur are some of the words that describe Sissel Tolaas who was invited to create a scent for Momentum 8 in 2015. While the senses of sight and hearing are integral to art, the sense of smell is the chosen pathway that Sissel Tolaas works with, and without a tactile, visible object to trigger the subjective, the process of smell triggers reactions like surprise or repulsion but also, memories and nostalgia. During 2015, the walls of Momentum kunsthall were painted with the scent Tolaas created called Molecule MOVX_015 and for Momentum10, the work will again be installed in the same location where it previously existed. The scent is a work that truly challenges and activates the audience’s awareness of art.

From Norway and Iceland, today based in Berlin, Tyskland.

Sissel Tolaas has been working, researching and experimenting intensively with the topic of smell since 1990. She is a pioneer and unique in her approach to smells. She has developed a wide range of revolutionary projects worldwide with smells based upon her own knowledge – organic chemistry, linguistics, and the visual arts. Tolaas established the SMELL RE_searchLab Berlin in January 2004, supported by IFF Inc. Tolaas has special skills in smell recognition, analysis and reproduction. She has experience with smells in many different and diverse contexts. Her research and projects have won recognition through numerous national and international scholarships, honours, and prizes. She is very capable at collaborating intensively with those of other disciplines across the globe.

Tolaas has shown her projects in many museums and institutions including MOMA, NGV, DIA, CCA, TATE MODERN. She has worked with universities such as MIT, Nanyang Technical, Harvard and Oxford. Sissel has done 52 City SmellScapes research projects since 1996, of, for and with major cities. She has built up several types of smell archives such as Smell & Language; Smell & Coding, Functiona Smell and is currently working on smell molecule preservation /conservation archives on the world’s oceans, smell artefacts (on heritage) in Detroit, and Australia’s indigenous past. Tolaas’ collections of smell molecules and smell structures from 1990 till 2018 include 10,000 samples. Since 2014 Tolaas has participated in various start-ups, i.e. in the fields of the senses and education; senses and technology.


Ingeborg Øien Thorsland © Punkt Ø