Art channel


Smell, Breath, Sound

illustration: Dobrawa Borkała

Katarzyna Korytowska
Smell. Penetration of consciousness

“When I, with eyes shut, on warm autumn eves,
The fragrance of your warmer breast respire,
I see a country bathed in solar fire
Whose happy shores its lustre never leaves;”

Exotic Perfume, Charles Baudelaire
[Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)]

Ephemeral in nature and easily ignored, smell, is unquestionably
the humans’ guide to the world. What does smell mean to me?
Conscious fragrant information;
The arousal of sensuous being;
Chemistry swirling in the air, which hits the brain in the quickest way;
The particles of defined order;
The source of pleasure, curiosity, or a warning;
A filter bringing a new meaning and quality to the environment;
The moment of pause, of mindfulness;
The invisible presence;
A sensation which I feel;
A sensation which I evoke, also when composing perfumes;
Elusive matter;
An impulse to interact;
A possibility to explore new areas of perception;
A theme holding the endless spectrum of meaning;
A reason to find a new language;
An incentive to erotic arousal.


illustration: Eliza Chojnacka: Chodźcie do mnie zapachy (Come to Me Smells)

image: Katarzyna Korytowska, Lillies, Żoliborz

My practices revolve around interdisciplinary forms of activism and initiating collective situations in favour of egalitarian world free from divisions.

Professionally, I compose perfumes in Mo61 Perfume Lab, so my job is about responding to other people’s needs and assisting them in discovering their olfactory preferences. I further explore my interest in the world of scents by co-hosting a recurring radio broadcast called “WĘSZ” (“SMELL!”) in a social radio station Radio Kapitał. We invite our listeners for a journey to the world of sounds, concepts and the world of smells.

Inspired by Kate McLean’s project on sensory city maps, together with Eliza Chojnacka, I guided an aromatic walk around the Botanic Garden of the University of Warsaw. I design fragrances for the series of events called “Słodycz” (“Sweetness”) which I co-organize and make sure the guests experience synaesthesia.

I am a co-organizer and one of the originators of HER Docs, the first documentary film festival in Poland (and one of few such festivals in general) which presents movies directed by women. Through the power of visual (her)stories, the festival aims to inspire and expose the vital topics for women and society. The festival will be held from the 6th to 8th of March, 2020 in Warsaw.

Three years ago, together with my partner Ignacy Hryniewicz, we founded Kolektyw Synergia (Synergy Community) which organizes socially engaged music events, building new alliances for common goals, emphasizing grassroots movements and using the revolutionary potential of music and dance.

Mindful smelling means to me sensitivity to the world, nature and people; the admiration of something seemingly insignificant and a constant urge to explore.

Text inspired by the research conducted by Kaja Domińska for a radio broadcast WĘSZ in Radio Kapitał.

image: Katarzyna Korytowska, Mo61 Perfume Lab

image: Eliza Chojnacka, Ogród Botaniczny UW, Smellwalking

Dobrawa Borkała

I animated a conch

Breath is an act of constant becoming, an exchange with the environment, an organism’s opening to the world . Breathing the same air, we unconsciously engage in close relationships with others.

The internal becomes external, and the external penetrates our interior, oxygenating all cells which build our bodies. Inhaling the particles of air, we become the embodiment of the external environment, we inhale the exhales of other beings.

At times, this ignored automatic action, when accompanied by another entity, seems to be a bond as deep as sex.

Enhancing breath mindfulness gives an opportunity to re-establish a relationship with self; with tenderness, with acceptance. It is the foundation of the relationships with others.

By restoring natural breathing we allow it to fully feel ourselves, open the body to sensuality, bring it into pulsation.

illustration: Dobrawa Borkała

illustration: Dobrawa Borkała

Over the recent months we have been exploring the ways to restore free-flowing breath, while working on Breath Symphony “Jaśnienie” (“Brightening”) with Experimental Breathing Choir “EChO”. I am genuinely grateful for the open-mindedness of the people who work with me. Some breath registers, though achieved in a different way, are explicitly associated with sex. And they mirror it. On many occasions our rehearsals sounded like an orgy, the ecstasy of pelvises individually moving to the rhythm of rapid, alluring respiration. I was deeply moved by this experience of collective sensuality. Air was literally our connector (the air was dusty at times due to the renovation of the Community’s building in Warsaw). It is so rare for those sounds of breath to enter the common zone that our main points of reference are our own interactions and pornographic constructs. It is an area for further projects. Regarding sex, I still explore how the breathing synchronization with the partner, intentional modulation, unconscious breath-holding or increased breathing influences the feeling of pleasure.

In the performance I animated a conch called La Rosada (named after Rosado, a snail which used to live in her). Being a kind of a wind instrument, she enabled amplification and gave a visual layer the phenomenon as ethereal and subtle as breath. La Rosada resembles a vagina in appearance and vocal cords often evoke similar visual associations. Blowing a conch requires the specific vibrations of the lips, or preferably the entire body. In order to make a sound, the breath deepens significantly, it comes right from the bowel. The relation with the conch turned out to be very sensual. For the first time I achieved orgasm by redirecting the breath inside my body.

My artistic activity draws on the exploration of a basic bodily function, namely breathing. Changing the rhythm, pace, intensity, or depth, we can observe or experience different states of mind, which I register in the form breathing scores. The air, which we all breathe, is my artistic material.

image: Dobrawa Borkała

illustration: Dobrawa Borkała

Edyta Jarząb

“My scream was lost in a paper cup”

Let us start the exercises with a song by Tori Amos “Silent All These Years”.

After a whole day of activities and immobility look at your hands. Turn the palms so they face each other, observe your left and right hand. Talk to them, tell them about your day, about your mood. Pause, make sure they listen and react.

Right before going to sleep look at them once again. Move your joined hands to your lips. Start singing a lullaby letting the sound vibrate in this tiny space. Hold it from time to time, your mouth shut, and don’t let it get out. Observe the vibrating air, which becomes a story.

Take a deep breath directing it down your back as if your kidneys were filling with air just like accordion bellows. Gently release the air through your open mouth, warming your throat and palate. With the next inhale, a sound may occur, a silent, barely audible sigh of relief. Focus on the pounding spots in your body. Let the exhale be an effect of romance, the air caressing the lungs.

Feel your voice rooted inside, in the area around the navel, wandering freely. Reverse the direction somewhat and with the next sound steer the exhale inside, releasing the abdomen the way you do it when yawning. Feel the air and vibrations reaching down to the pelvis area. Take a deep breath beginning from your vagina and then return the air in the form of vibrations embracing your pussy.

image courtesy of Edyta Jarząb

From this vibrating body start singing a song of someone with virgin ears. Imagine that your ears are coated with a thick impervious membrane. You can help yourself by stopping your ears as to hear your voice only inside, in your voice box, in your chest, to feel it moving in your body. 

Continue this journey between your lips and labia establishing a direct connection between them for breath and sound. To feel the beginning of this route more profoundly, you can gently move the deep pelvic muscles imagining you are peeling a ripe apricot with your pussy. 

How are you feeling? Is this part of your body all about pleasure or pain? Does it require healing?

I think that all of us experienced sexual violence and the pressure to stay silent is enormous. I think how shame and humiliation destroy the essence of a person, remove from the body, deprive of the authentic voice embedded in it. 

Our ways of survival are different. The most frequent one is separation, the discard of this part of self which yearns for emotional satisfaction or the truth, which does not comply with the real world. Coping with depression for many years now, I feel that despair which can find an outlet, the means of expression, is less dangerous than the silent one, which reinforces inability to say anything.

(For me writing, speaking, singing, and other forms of storytelling are a form self-determination. To avoid the inner censor, I happened to run to narrate my words to another person, who could save them. On one of such sessions I met Green Dakini, a Buddhist goddess exuding confidence and fulfillment. I have everything, says Drakini, I got there.)

image courtesy of Edyta Jarząb

image courtesy of Edyta Jarząb


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