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JOSELY CARVALHO/ BOOK OF ROOFS The present chapter of Book of Roofs, Diary of Smells, explores collective experiences to odors and its relationship to memory. It is a shelter and a dispenser of smell information through a blog and a series of multimedia installations.


My work is a diary of the everyday. A book of loose pages – fragments without a beginning or an end. The book is the body that transverses time and space. I’m never alone in this trajectory – birds and turtles always accompany me. Diary of Images is a persistent on-going narrative where individual and collective memories walk hand-in-hand. Multiple mediums and techniques interweave through references, repetition, multiplication, and saturation. Pages from the Diary of Images are grouped in chapters that sometimes expand themselves into other books or diaries. Like carnivorous plants, the books can feed on each other.     Book of Roofs, a chapter of Diary of Images has Tracajá, my avatar, as its main protagonist. This small, nearly extinct turtle from the Amazon Basin enters real, imagined, and virtual locations carrying our shell, our home, and the portability of my laptop. Together, we travel between crevices of dislocations, in a zone of intersection between dream and reality, nature and artifice, life and death, art and non-art.   After many years living in New York, concentrating my gaze on the feminine and the socio-historic, I initiated an imaginary and provisory flight of return do Brazil. I included my birds – companions of innumerable and short Southern migratory trips and started an intimate recognizance of a latent nest, with the emotion of touching and smelling landscapes forgotten or perhaps never known. The nucleus of this “revisiting” practice is the site-specific construction of a sculptural, translucent nest of 1,000 interwoven glass-resin branches of stable, avian architecture embedded in the fragility of glass. The point of departure was the photography of a bird that in the process of building its nest, crashed into its own reflection in a windowpane. It was a search for a core – a primitive and powerful beginning, where smell and its connection to emotion and memory reside. Smell is essential to social and romantic relationships. Although our olfactory vocabulary is small, our nose is a laboratory of chemical analyses, and a time machine that can take us back to relevant moments of our lives. The impact of its loss can be devastating: eating, making love, or walking on a spring morning can turn into pale experiences. Inclusion of the olfactory in my work dates back to the 1980s, with the series Smell of Fish. In it, the smell of fish wasn’t physically present, merely the memory of my grandmother saying: “Take your bath if you don’t want to smell like codfish”. I tried to find this same prejudice in other cultures, and didn’t need to go far before an American friend said: “When I was thirteen, my brother said that fish tasted like meat until God allowed Eve to bathe in the sea”. The installation/performance focused on pleasure – a banquet where a woman exorcised, through her memory of the smell of fish, poetry, and serigraphy, the stigma that various cultures have placed on feminine desire. Later, with the United States invasion of Baghdad in 199 1, I entered the universe of wars. For this chapter, It is Time to Mourn, the smell of death was inscribed on camouflage netting used in the Gulf War, and the phantom smell of the desert became real in the installations.   Today, Diary of Smells looks to a multi-sensorial practice where the hierarchy of the senses is not present. I was able to produce four original smells – The Nest, The Ocean, The Wet Earth, The Hot Sun – that, in the Nidus Vítreo installation, act as protagonists among other actors/actresses of the senses.   A blog http://www. joselycarvalho.net/blog/diaryofsmells has been published –a “smell map” of places visited and memories lived.

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