The artist wishes to transportation men and women with his scents, not keep them trapped in a binary way of contemplating about gender and perfume.
When the earth ground to a halt in the spring of 2020, writer, director and dramaturg David Bernstein was confronted with a stark new truth: he was a theatre-maker in a planet without the need of any theatres.
As others in the theatre industry were being thinking about virtual performances and electronic media, Bernstein commenced to explore another of his longtime fascinations — scent. The ensuing corporation, Jovian, is a scent artwork studio dependent in Toronto that creates what Bernstein describes as “psychoactive fragrance for pores and skin and house.” The tiny batch, hand-crafted scents are a blend of aromatherapy, regular perfuming, and playful nods to new age philosophies and drug society — Jovian delivers scents in “uppers” and “downers” and employs an in-dwelling astrologer, Jaime Wright, who helps dictate the formulation.
As a gay male, Bernstein has taken a queer technique to the heteronormative area of scent, an sector so gendered that it splits its presenting in two straight across the gender binary colognes for guys, perfumes for females. Jovian’s all-gender scents are certainly not the initial choices to eschew the fragrance binary, but they’re especially progressive simply because they really don’t just toss absent the previous binary labels for scents, but also the gendered associations with distinct components.
The selection to go all-gender was informed by Bernstein’s days marketing perfume at a office shop to guidance himself although he was a scholar at New York University’s TISCH College of the Arts. In that place, Bernstein states he was consistently achieved with customers’ deeply held beliefs about scent and gender. “It’s amazing, “ he claims, “when you have labored as prolonged as I have in perfume, people’s gender hold ups come ideal to the forefront.”
Customers, Bernstein suggests, would be intrigued by scents he’d introduce them to, but shoot them down due to the fact of their gender. “They’d say, ‘Oh, I appreciate it, but is it far too female?’ or ‘Is it way too masculine?’”
“It does not have genitals and it doesn’t have a socially defined gender general performance,” he says in response to that line of pondering. “No, it is not also female. It is liquid.”
Around the very same time, Bernstein uncovered CB I Dislike Fragrance, a brand name that can take inspiration for its scents from strange sources that span from snow to dust to sushi. The boutique promptly became 1 of his favourite sites in New York City and the brand’s philosophy finally assisted inform Bernstein’s own acquire on scent. When he started out Jovian, Bernstein embraced a queer fluidity as he sourced ingredients, discovering how distinct substances combined jointly to build an emotional state fairly than the age-previous fragrance ideology of how they’d help the wearer attract suitors of the reverse gender. He also embraced his individual combine of unusual resources like contemporary hops, porcini, ginger lily, and espresso.
The notion at the rear of each Jovian scent is to transport the particular person who smells it, finally allowing for it to modify their condition of thoughts. The approach is knowledgeable by Bernstein’s work in theatre as a “scent designer” — an artist who produces scents to be introduced into a theatre area in hopes of transporting the audience. If, for illustration, a scene is set in an orchard, a scent designer may possibly generate a combination evoking trees and fruit that would be diffused in the course of that instant in the perform, sort of like an artistic consider on scent-o-vision. The very same strategy is often taken with trend, like when Alexander McQueen tapped Bernstein to produce three personalized scent consequences for a dance-primarily based presentation of its McQ wares at the New Museum.
As a queer innovative and organization individual, Bernstein says he’s spent this Delight Month reflecting on who place is held for in the LGBTQ+ group — especially those people whose identities are afforded fewer privilege than his have as a gay white person. This year Delight Month also intersected with some deeply troubling occasions that have been on Bernstein’s brain, which includes the revelation of hundreds of unmarked graves at the sites of residential colleges throughout the state. Past the human degree, Bernstein says he’s been reflecting on currently being in a company that extracts purely natural components from the land specified Canada’s fraught partnership with land and its authentic caretakers.
“The oils have been sublimated from agricultural product or service to liquid extraction, the bottles have been manufactured in a factory, and all have been delivered across borders and socioeconomic contexts,” Bernstein explains. “So, a ton of conceptually and ethically profound matters have transpired ahead of I even mix the to start with drop of scent.”
About half of the crucial oils he utilizes are sourced from India, which is currently working with a devastating surge of COVID-19. “My queer utopia of scent functions on labour from in other places — that is something I’m keeping mindful of,” he says, detailing he’s shared fundraising efforts from reduction organizations in India on the Jovian Instagram and built donations on behalf of the business, but he’s searching to go over and above small-time period, reactive responses. “To me, queering a distinct self-discipline suggests, in part, seeking to perform from the collisions and tensions contained in just it,” suggests Bernstein.
“I want to obtain techniques of relocating outside of my very own visions, impulses and contexts as a ‘queer artist,’ and use the exact irreverent, subversive lens to queering the ethics of production.”