Erik Benjamins (AIR) – The Institute for Art and Olfaction

Erik Benjamins
In residence at the IAO
‘Spring Soap’ project, for Spring Workshop, Hong Kong
Dates: October 9 – 31, 2017


Local artist and writer Erik Benjamins, is thrilled to return to the IAO to realize “Spring Soap”, a scented liquid hand soap and sensorial response to Spring Workshop, an art space, community center and residency in Hong Kong. This project is one of five commissioned works for Spring Workshop’s bathrooms that will run until year’s end.

The beginning phase of “Spring Soap” involved Erik’s participation as an artist-in-residence at Spring in September to conduct a process of open-ended research and community collaboration. This manifested by way daily observations and reflections on his body as he moved, ate, listened, and smelled. After returning to LA, Erik will collaborate with the IAO to realize the scented soap that explores how fragrance can poetically or literally reflect Spring Workshop’s identity as a social, artistic, cultural, and geographic site.

The finished work, to be installed in November, will consist of a usable hand soap, the publication of a short story, and a text intervention within the unique typographic way-finding system that covers many of the walls at Spring. “Spring Soap” is the second project Erik has realized with the IAO. The first, “Slow Smoke, Slow Soap”, 2013 – 15, was a trio of scented candles, realized in collaboration with Ashley Eden Kessler, that responded to the kitchen place and Olvera Street.


ericBAs an artist, writer, and educator, Los Angeles-based Erik Benjamins celebrates the sensing body as a means to move in the world. His practice is concept-driven, materially unfaithful, and unapologetically optimistic. From an experimental Florentine travel memoir to custom scented candles to a vanishing cookbook, Erik employs tenets of performance, namely a sensitivity to duration, body-to-body empathy, and a sensory spectatorship. Language and writing are also integral to the research, production, and installation of his work. Lately, he’s explored both the tourist and the homebody as privileged identities with which to learn from another.