Slow Smoke, Slow Soap – The Institute for Art and Olfaction

Slow Smoke, Slow Soap, 2013-15
by Erik Benjamins

EB2Slow Smoke, Slow Soap is a trio of bespoke fragrances inspired by the kitchen place and historic Olvera Street. The candles were scented to adopt notes from herbs, desserts, spices kitchen cleaner, and barbecued meat.

This project emphasizes scent and smelling as a primary, intimate, forceful, and seductive means with which to collapse the boundaries between a historic, public cultural place (Olvera St.) with a private, domestic culinary space (the kitchen).

The first iteration of Slow Smoke… was exhibited in an alternative gallery space off of Olvera St. at the end of 2013. The second was a limited edition of smaller candles poured into hand-thrown earthenware vessels, scaled for domestic use.

This third and final version will utilize the very last of the fragrance oils to make a final batch of candles to be poured into fragile, unfired clay vessels.

Over a week-long exhibition span, these candles will live and die within the gallery space at the IAO’s new location on Chungking Road in Chinatown.

Opening Event: August 29, 2015 – 8pm to late

Closing Reception: September 5, 2015 – 6-9pm

The closing reception marked the project’s death by exhibiting a final batch of candles poured into unfired pinch pots installed in the loft gallery space at the IAO’s newly christened Chinatown location on Chungking Road.

Poet Janelle DolRayne debuted a new poem for you to read, among the scents.

> Find out more on the event’s Facebook page


Project Collaborators: Perfumer Ashley Eden Kessler (Pt. 1, 2, 3), Artist Jonathan Takahashi (Pt. 1), Curator Steven Wong (Pt. 1), Ceramicist David Whitaker (Pt. 2), the home edition owners (Pt. 2), Poet Janelle DolRayne (Pt. 3), the pinch-pot crew (Pt. 3) and IAO Director Saskia Wilson-Brown (Pt. 1, 2, 3).



Erik Benjamins is an optimistic cultural producer. His practice embraces the complexities, discomforts and unpredictable frictions that emerge as one moves between home and away places. At the intersection of the visual, performing and culinary art communities, Erik works to emphasize the body and the gut as intimate and profound mediators towards learning and communicating with another.

Erik has shown work at Anthony Greaney in Boston, MA and Gagosian Gallery in New York, NY. He is a member of the international artist book cooperative, ABC and his experimental dissertation titled Just… is currently available at Printed Matter, NY. Erik received his MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Art, Boston/Tufts University and BA in Communication Studies and Studio Art at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA.

Currently, Erik is an assistant professor at LMU where he teaches across the Comm. Studies and Studio Art departments.