Alabastron is a journal that bridges the gap between academia and the public to explore aromatic history and culture. Co-edited by Nuri McBride and Saskia Wilson-Brown, our first issue launches in 2024.
Alabastron is a journal that bridges the gap between academia and the public to explore aromatic history and culture. Our aim is to create diverse and accessible learning environments in which to discuss how olfaction, Scent Culture, and aromatic trades shape the human experience.
Since the beginning of recorded history, humans have sought to control their sensory environment and express their values aromatically. They have augmented their olfactive habitat and realities for diverse reasons: cultural, religious, sociological, psychological, personal, commercial, and political, to name a few. Their motivations for doing so emerge from a complex web of personal, communal, and sensorial stimuli that reveal elements of universal human experiences.
We at Alabastron wish to explore these topics in a way that honors sensorial experiences and embodied knowledge. We believe that collaboration and dialogue among people with different skill sets and backgrounds create a richer tapestry of human experience. We strive to bring a diverse collection of voices together and elevate those rarely given deference when discussing Scent Culture and fragrance. To achieve this, we are guided by the principle of accessible discourse. We must bring the conversation down from the ivory tower and out from behind paywalls that separate it from living communities and embodied experiences. Accessibility, for us, means striving to remove barriers, checking for blind spots, and listening. Finally, while commercial perfumery receives a disproportionate amount of attention in olfactive discourse, it represents a relatively small and recent segment of the diverse ways in which people scent their worlds. Alabastron aims to move the discourse around scent away from commercialisation and into the domain of human cultures.
Nuri is a perfumer, curator, writer and community organiser.
She serves as the Program Curator for the Scent & Society lecture series at the Institute for Art and Olfaction. Nuri explores the intersection of olfaction and death rituals with the Death/Scent Project and fragrance history in her monthly newsletter, Aromatica de Profundis. Her professional work focuses on olfactive cultural education, aromatics in lifecycle rituals, and the preservation of traditional forms of aromatic preparations. She is also deeply interested in labour rights and power equity in the fragrance trade.
Saskia started The Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO) in 2012 to further access and experimentation in perfumery. Through the IAO, she has launched projects with institutions such as Pulitzer Foundation, Getty Institute, Hammer Museum, Wallace Collection, Atlas Obscura, and many more. In 2013, she launched the Art and Olfaction Awards, an international awards mechanism for independent, artisan and experimental work with scent. In 2019 and early 2020 she served as a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art in London, and in 2021 she was invited as a Ballen Scholar at New Mexico Highlands University. In addition to overseeing the IAO, her current projects include a radio show and podcast called Perfume on the Radio and pursuing a PhD exploring the historic and contemporary relationship between perfume, access and power at University College Dublin’s SmartLab.
Alabastron is published by The Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO), a 501 (c) 3 non-profit devoted to experimentation and access in the field of perfumery and related practices. The IAO is based in sunny Los Angeles.