“Babae” is an interactive installation involving scent and taste. The main component of this piece are 70 shot glasses that are shaped like the female reproductive organs in honor of the liberated and sensual feminine. Focusing on the body, particularly women and women identifying bodies, this project is a celebration of the many layers of the woman, particularly the immigrant woman.
It is in direct response to the censoring and injustice of women that is occurring in the current political climate in the Philippines, the artist’s country of origin.
The artist collaborated with chef Tessa Liebman of Scents of Plates , in order to create a drink that should change in flavor depending where the viewer is standing within the installation.
The installation is composed of two separate rooms focusing on two scents.
The scents are dispersed through scented fog. Each drink’s taste will alter depending on the scent within the space.
The first scent is a derivative of the Philippine flower - the ylang ylang. Sweet, sensual and floral - the ylang ylang was chosen by the artist as a reminder of home and also of herself as a Filipina immigrant. The flower itself, has been patented by numerous Western companies despite its tropical origins yet no rights have been given to the farmers that first propagated this flower.
The second scent Lapsang Souchong - a smokey , woody tea from China. The leaves are usually smoked over a pine fire, which gives it its potent aroma. The story goes that the tea was created during the Qing era when the passage of armies delayed the annual drying of the tea leaves in the Wuyi Mountain. Eager to satisfy demand, the tea producers sped up the process by drying the leaves over fires made from local pines. According to some sources, Lapsang souchong is the first black tea in history. After the lapsang souchong tea was used for producing black tea, people started to move the tea bush to different places, such as Keemun, India and Ceylon. As with the ylang ylang flower, the artist sees this tea as a metaphor for immigrant life. Change brought from necessity, and an appropriation and transplanting of the original seed or plant throughout the globe.
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