The Senses — a collection of works

The Senses: Play in Camera (sense of sight)
The Senses: Play it by Ear & An Ear for You (sense of sound)
The Senses: Ô d’Oriane (sense of smell)
The Senses: Zucchini (sense of taste)
The Senses: Inti­macy (sense of touch)

The Senses is a collec­tion of works completed over 16 years.

With video and audio record­ings, a live film element, projected photog­raphy, as well as the encounter with stim­u­lating cuisine The Senses is also a homage to the works of Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, Italo Calvino, Primo Levi and Hanif Kureishi.

The senses are our bodily means to perceive the world around us. They nourish our under­standing but we have the choice what to do with a life, whether we choose to behave with cruelty in our human rela­tion­ships, as do most of the protag­o­nists in all of the The Senses, which are in effect morality tales.


The video instal­la­tion Play in Camera (sense of sight) is about the gaze beheld in mirrors, or in the eyes of others: 3 depicted char­ac­ters have all behaved in a regretful manner towards others during their lives and as punish­ment may dwell after death, only in the hell of digital impulse repeated in the video projec­tion (a fourth projec­tion linked to a camera in-corp-orates the spec­tator into the spec­tacle). The texts are quota­tions from Sartre and Beckett’s work. Beckett and Sartre were parti­sans during WW2.

3 stories to be heard as digital compositing version in Play it by Ear (sense of sound) (with visual image An Ear for You) encom­pass comedy and more serious thoughts on the nature of cata­strophe in unknown places (falling asleep under the sunbed, or while driving), with foreign languages (falling asleep while listening to a foreign language course), where under­cur­rents of racism and love betrayal are revealed.

It is said some have an ear for music”; in German the expres­sion goes: Ich habe ein Ohr für Dich”, liter­ally: I have an ear for you” — time to listen. An Ear for You is a portrait of Amin Farzanefar’s ear; although most of my German text correc­tions are under­taken per email attach­ment, English being my mother tongue, some are pursued on the telephone.

The photo instal­la­tion Ô d’Oriane (sense of smell), as with the video piece, owes its exis­tence to literary refer­ences. This piece is dedi­cated to the ephemeral nature of beauty; sepia-coloured, maga­zine-like images of a semi-undressed stylist have been augmented with quota­tions from the works of Calvino and Levi that tell of the search in one’s memory to locate the exact odour of a person loved and lost long ago. The photos have been perfumed with Chanel no. 5. Unlike Coco Chanel, who was a Nazi supporter1, Levi and Calvino were active as parti­sans. The allu­sion in this work to the indi­vidual response towards Fascism is almost sublim­inal, like a deli­cious scent or a bad smell.

The artist tells her own wicked story in Zucchini (docu­mented on video) at her birthday party cele­bra­tion in a Berlin gallery, after the guests have consumed a meal of cour­gette curry, prepared by her (sense of taste). The anec­dote is about vegeta­bles and sex toys and a gath­ering together of friends for Xmas in Cologne: 2 German Chris­tians, 2 Pales­tinians and the artist herself, an Anglo-German-Jew.

Literary works are once more cited in the final piece Inti­macy (sense of touch), this time from a different piece by Sartre, a pre-war short story, together with quota­tions from Kureishi’s contem­po­rary British book. Both authors have taken up the same subject of inti­macy and marriage break­down. The visual data taken between Xmas and New Year 1991, is of the artist and male friend engaged in sexual activity filmed by camera on a tripod.

Tanya Ury

1 In 1939, at the begin­ning of the Second War, the designer decided to close her shops. She believed that it was not a time for fashion. She took up resi­dence in the Hôtel Ritz Paris and for more than 30 years, Gabrielle Chanel made this hotel her home, even during the Nazi occu­pa­tion of Paris. During that time she was crit­i­cized for having an affair with Hans Gunther von Dinck­lage, a German officer and spy who arranged for her to remain in the hotel. en​.wikipedia​.org/​wiki/…

Scroll to Top