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Sissel Tolaas:
A smell identity for Callie’s
April 24 - May 3, 2024

Sissel Tolaas understands air as a shared endeavor that connects rather than divides us. Trained in chemistry, biology, neuroscience, and linguistics, Tolass creates smells that build and deconstruct place and time. Through the investigation of this essential yet underexplored sense, the artist explores culture, geography, and politics.

Tolaas initiates her site-specific fieldwork by collecting samples of air using a device that functions similarly to a compressor. Employing a machine equipped with carboxen polydimethylsiloxane fibers, she extracts particles from collected air samples and is then able to chemically replicate molecules in her laboratory in Berlin.

The result is a transformative practice that draws on the highly emotive medium of smell as it conjures up a physical world, both present and absent. Through her work, Sissel activates an engagement with spaces that contributes to the formation of new sensory ecologies whilst amplifying our latent and overlooked knowledge of environments.

Tolaas’s collaboration with Callie’s began in 2019 with the idea of creating a smell profile that captures the environment—the historic building and the neighborhood— as well as its activities: the ethos and energy generated by artists living and working on-site. The articulations of this tangible yet invisible identity embody Callie’s; the interplay of smell is intended to both generate and recall memories, an ebb and flow of processes.

The resulting work is a site-specific installation that presents a series of molecular profiles that reflect the evolving nature of Callie’s immediate environment. Passing through the main entrance of the building, visitors will encounter four radical molecule positions. As one ascends the stairs, the presence of each molecule is amplified through a diffuser, marking a unique bodily journey from earth into the atmosphere above. The work builds and develops with each level, creating an olfactory profile that is both connected to and removed from spatial and temporal boundaries.

Sissel Tolaas was born in 1961 in Stavanger, Norway. She is an artist, scientist, and researcher who works with the medium of smell. Her work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Modern, London; MoMA, New York; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; the Dia Art Foundation, New York; and others.

Tours of the installation will start at 4 pm in the ground floor on the following dates: Thursday, April 25th, Friday, April 26th, Tuesday, April 30th, Thursday, May 2nd, Friday, May 3rd

Please reserve your spot via, mentioning which tour you’d like to attend and your preferred language; we offer tours in English, German, and Arabic.

Sissel Tolaas’s installation was generously supported by Rudolf Augstein Stiftung.

Location: Callie’s stairwell

Date: Tuesday, April 25th

4pm start

Please register in advance for guided tours via

Admission is free.

Guided tour dates: Thursday, April 25th, Friday, April 26th, Tuesday, April 30th, Thursday, May 2nd, and Friday, May 3rd.