“Smoking Room in a Private Palais in Brussels as Seen From the Entrance, 1905” is the title of an installation by Maria Loboda commissioned by the Frieze Art Fair as part of its public projects program on Randall’s Island. “Smoking Room” consists of a garden that is intended to replicate, through the color-coding of flowers, an illustration of a smoking room designed by the Wiener Werkstätte. With the support of the Fragrance Foundation and the Swiss firm Firmenich, Loboda worked with perfumer Honorine Blanc (creator of Beyoncé Heat Rush and Britney Spears Radiance) to produce an accompanying scent for the floral installation. The fragrance, called Smoking Room in a Private Palais, is a combination of tobacco, tuberose, and ambrox, and though it smelled vaguely intriguing from the card, it was not enough to convey the radicality of the Wiener Werkstätte’s aesthetic. According to the New York Times, “The formula is such a costly blend of tobacco, tuberose and ambrox that Firmenich has no plans to sell it.” The experience of the perfume and flower bed are ephemeral, as the installation will be destroyed as the tents come down today for the end of the fair.
Both the scent and the flower bed are dwarfed by the scale and noise of the art fair and the landscape of Randall’s Island. Given that Loboda was competing with Paul McCarthy’s monumental rendition of Jeff Koons’s balloon dog, it would have probably been better to show “Smoking Room” in a calmer setting, where its smart concept and quiet subversion would not be overshadowed.
Maria Loboda is represented by Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York.