The Fragrance Symposium, hosted at QAIC’s headquarters in the heart of Washington, D.C. in collaboration with the Institute for Art and Olfaction, will build upon the research and connections forged during the 2023 Olfactory Delegation to Doha. Through a series of talks and workshops, fragrance artists will share with you the cultural importance of fragrance.
You will have the option of joining interactive workshops such as blending your own fragrances, merging fragrance with art, and more!
Journeys to Qatar panel – Saskia Wilson-Brown, Rubia Chaudri, Micah Anderson, Jawad Khawaja, Razwan Ul-Haq, and Regina Mamou will recount their experiences as part of QAIC’s 2023 Olfactory Delegation to Qatar, reflecting on what they learned and how it informs their artistic practices today.
“Ineffable Oud” panel – Micah Anderson and Jawad Khawaja from Oudimentary present a scent-enlivened experience that takes for its topic the historical and spiritual practice of burning aromatics. Rooted in their experiences in Qatar – as well as in Micah’s decades-long dive into scent’s relation to spirituality, meditation, and the embodied self – this reflective session will present several smell experiences with an emphasis on Oud – or Aloeswood – an aromatic, resinous heartwood that is found in trees from the Aquilaria genus nature to Southeast Asia. Highly valued in many historic and contemporary cultures and used for a variety of purposes, aloeswood is mentioned several times in both in the Bible and Islamic Hadith (spoken traditions of the Prophet Muhammad), and in a variety of religious ceremonies ranging from Islamic prayer and burial observances to Buddhist rituals. This session will provide an overview of the history, science, and culture of aloeswood as a psycho-spiritual aid, enlivened by smell experiences that will provide attendees with an opportunity to reflect on the meaning and impact of scent.
“Five Smells that Shaped Us” talk – The history of perfumery is deeply intertwined with the history of humanity, commingling in a reciprocal narrative of mutual expression. Throughout recorded history, we find evidence that scent has helped humans communicate their relationship to the divine, to heal, to seduce, to trade, to express power, and so much more. In this smell-enlivened talk, Saskia Wilson-Brown draws from her deep research into historic and contemporary practices with scent as well as her experience in Qatar to present five important aromatics that have impacted global human expression and belief. Each aromatic will serve as a springboard for a discussion about perfume history, art, commerce, and more.
WORKSHOPS – attendees may attend a maximum of 1 workshop per day
“The Scents of the Qur’anic Garden” workshop – Rubia Chaudri leads a workshop exploring the scents of the Qur’anic Botanic Garden based in Education City, Doha. Discussing and smelling some of the plants mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), she will then demonstrate how these can combine for perfumery, using her perfume Nomad Sun as a teaching tool. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about important historic aromatics, as well as gain a first insight into the practice of making perfume.
“Traditional Arabic Calligraphy” workshop – Traditional Arabic Calligraphy has a connection with perfumes. In 2021, Razwan Ul-Haq explored this connection through an Arts Council England Project, where he researched how perfume could be embedded in his traditional and contemporary calligraphic work. In this workshop, Razwan will introduce the participants to Arabic Calligraphy in the Nastaliq script. Participants will use hand-mixed ink and bamboo pens in order to engage with or respond to a selection of important natural perfume materials.
“Tincturing for Artists” workshop – Regina Mamou’s art practice incorporates materials and their scents, and is often expressed through the act of aromatic preservation. She collects site-specific and puts them through this historic process of tincturing them, so that the aromatic components may be retained and stored. In this intimate discussion and workshop, Regina shares her work, and how scent has impacted her art practice. Using aromatic materials that she collected in Qatar, she will explain the process of tincturing, and the impact of the aromatic traces left by places, people, and materials.