Recovery Field, 2015
Interactive mixed media installation
The Smell of War
Castle De Lovie, Poperinge, Belgium
Recovery Field moves the reflection on war from the distanced politicized experience to the monolithic personal experience that it ultimately is.
Here, the viewer becomes the other and the beds are the aesthetic objects of experience that offer empathic convergence with suffering. We enter the installation scene of a historically representative field hospital in the very room that functioned as a field hospital at Castle De Lovie during World War I.
WW1 Hospital beads are dressed in period sheets and blankets. WW1 gas masks lay at the head of each bed. As the viewer approaches a bed, sounds of escaping gas or gas driven by wind are triggered. As viewers raise the masks towards their face, smells embedded in the filters, penetrate their nostrils.
Bed 3: Nightmares
Scent arouses anxiety and memories of full terror.
Scent: Overpowering stench of the rotting flesh of corpses, lingering gas, open latrines full of feces and urine, wet clothes, unwashed bodies, mud, maggots and lice.
Sound: Hissing gas
Bed 2: Self-Soothing Shell-shock
Aromas accrue meaning for individuals from the time they are in the womb. SucQuestioning the obsolete meaning of existence and the illusion of a cure for the fragmented self yet bound by the physical body.
Scent: Smell of washed bodies and washed uniforms with the smell of lime that protected against disease.
Sound: Escaping gas
Bed 1: Hallucinations
Surrender. Return to the world we came out of, return to sanity, the feeling of family and love.
Scent: Smells of family life and Christmas dinner
Sound: Driving wind