Listening the Scent: Smells of Flower, Nena Nastasiya

Note : I currently doing my postponed project that I had since 2017. The idea was coming after my own experiences of realizing feeling deeply nostalgic into some scents. This was especially after I got a reminiscence thought by smelling something similar like the spring air back on 2013 when I was staying in Berlin. All those memories suddenly blow up in my mind, in a beautiful way. I ended up found that scientists also studies about this strong relation of our scent sense and memories. From that and regarding with our current circumstance, I want to know and having an open discussion from your experience about this feeling through this platform. The scent you smells that bring you back into some memories. Your participation will be part of my current project development (of course with Space Robot. Yaay!) and I would love to credit you on it. Thank you and have a bliss time on listening to the scent!

The sakura was there the time I am about leaving Japan at the end of February. I decided to come back to The Netherlands during the springtime and continuing my postponed project. I didn’t have an official artist residency program this time because my plans is quite independent. I was in Amsterdam last summer and I found this little cute town, Abcoude, with its lovely river and immediately love it!

Abcoude is a small town near Amsterdam and it’s surrounded by nature and farm. The thing that I like about this town is because it feels lively and warm. You feel the life balance here.

I start promising to myself that one day I will do my project in this town. It will be lovely! When I was still in Japan, I definitely think about what’s the next place? Should I continue the series or how? (you know, all those anxiety that sometimes came when you’re … uum … having an artist soul?) Creating a chance to get an artist residency also not that easy this time, especially if you have a specific place or theme that you want to develop. So I just wrote on my journal book something like “Just create your own way and go for Abcoude!”

After some chaotic things of the disorganized preparation (Yes, I am super disorganize sometimes) I got a place! A FREE place in Abcoude!! Wohooo!!!

I started my project and change the room at the attic into my little warm studio (also my room too). It was an amazing start!

I felt all the excitement in a relax way because of the town atmosphere. Cycling, going to the farm, walking into the windmill, catching the sunset while writings my ideas, and so many productive activities.

Then the pandemic things happened in The Netherlands.

One thing, I know that I couldn’t do my art project in the same way. It will be turned into something different.

I didn’t really freaking out or something about the current circumstance but I remembered the time I just staring on my studio wall and listening music.

I kind of lost my motivation to hold my pencil.

The wind blows 30km/hour the day I decided to took a walk to the countryside. I see a bunch of chickens in the field, eating. Some sheep chilling near the windmill. And me, alone in the middle of it, with a messy hair, staring at the horizon with a mixed thoughts, listening to a heartwarming Japanese song, and the wind blew me from behind.

A bit sad that no one filmed it. 

Somehow, we need to be in a pressured situation while our mind is messed up and change into a peaceful emptiness and naturally bringing some lights of hope.

I started being back productive the next day. That was quite magical!

March 14th, I already did quite a lot of research and did some sketches.

I come back in the life, in the moment. Wake up early, breakfast, writing in my studio, sketching, go for a walk or cycling after and write ideas on my notes again.

My Space Robot starting telling its story on my studio wall again. It always feels good to have them there, kind of staring back at me.

I am cycling back to my place after went for a short bike trip and collecting flowers. I stopped at the little bridge and staring through the horizon there with the Angstel river as my foreground. 

I see one robot with a star sign walking on the riverside. He just there, in its current own of human world, closing his eyes and smells a little flower.

He walks slowly and gave me that flower, “It’s still good. Smells good. The same as before.”

I smell it and I nodded. He’s right. The spring flower still smells the same. 

The robot disappear and it turns into a lovely late afternoon sky as I whispered to myself, 

“I think, I just need to keep going on.”

And it will be another beautiful scent memory to recalled one day.

6 thoughts on “Listening the Scent: Smells of Flower, Nena Nastasiya

  1. Dear Nena, thank you for sharing! It’s wonderful how quickly you coped with the changes and went on with your project! And also it is a great story how you made your dream residency location happen.

    About a scent memory I have one short story to share:
    once in sunny April a few years ago I was walking in the centre of the city (St. Petersburg) along a street full of kebab cafes. And I found myself catching a smell that made me happy and nostalgic. In a few seconds I realised it is the smell of fried meat (though I am vegetarian) mixed with the smell of sun heated asphalt and dust. I smelled the same when in my archeological expedition we visited a tiny “bit of civilization” a few kilometres walk from our camp. It was good times in perfect company. By then I had a two years pause in my expedition seasons. But that smell started a longing that made me go there again the following summer. So I agree that scent memory has a very strong emotional imput!

    1. Hi Liza! Your scent memory story makes me smile so wide! I knew that it is such a weird but wonderful experience that I myself also was not really realize on it but then the scent experience came again and again. I started felling the abundance through it. Such a magical sweet little things, right?

  2. Dear Nena,
    This feeling that you described is a very special one. I should say that I’m pretty obsessed with smells, but not food-related. Freshly mowed grass, wood, paint, also smells of people’s apartments (oh my, I hope that doesn’t sound creepy :)). Since my childhood I was excited by the smell that you scent when you enter someone’s home which is a thousand of aromas mixed in one. This is something that the owners usually don’t notice, only the guests.
    Smells are precious. They are impossible to capture in a natural way, and it’s hard to actually remember or reconstruct a smell from you memory – usually we remember how we felt and what we smelled, but not the smell itself. But when we scent a familiar smell, we instantly recognise it.

    1. Heyhoo Anastasia!
      That’s cool to knew that you’re having a special attention with smells! Yes, they are impossible to capture in a natural way. That’s why like @Liza Ordinartceva and I talked, it’s magical!

      From what I read and wrote on my notes, the brain regions that juggle smells, memories and emotion are connected. To noted again, it goes from the nose as a chemical particle, then the brain accepted it as an information that transfer into amygdala, where emotions are processed. In the end, it adjoining on hippocampus where learning and memory formation take place (wait! I am a bit unsure writing all these science stuff hahaha. But these all goes from Rachel Herz who did research and wrote book about scent as well). So anyway, we amazingly have a super ability to memorize through scents! As I wrote on the article, in my current case it’s somehow bring a warm willingness to recollected passion and a good feeling from the past memory.

      Thanks for your thoughts by the way. I like that you wrote the owners of a house usually doesn’t notice. A bit similar when we didn’t recognize our own bad smells sometimes :p

      p.s a virtual high five from your freshly mowed grass team!

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