contemporary art

Jammie Nicholas, Surplus Perfumes (2010)

July 15, 2011

Don’t expect to find this in Duty-Free over the summer. Artist Jammie Nicholas has made a perfume from his own urine, faeces, sweat, hair and God knows what else.

He is not the first artist to offer the public his own shit, but he may be the first to go to such lengths to make it smell good. And now it has a place in the system of exchange.

You can purchase the aromatic results for £40 a bottle. But Nicholas has said that his branding was influenced by Georges Bataille, who wrote about the tribal gifting frenzy known as potlatch.

We don’t really have that in my part of the world. Capitalist societies are happy to waste money on arms, but you won’t often catch us giving away more than we can afford to demonstrate largesse.

And in terms of brands or indeed art, we won’t even give away the things which cost us nothing. If you want the essence of Nike or the magic of Warhol, you’ll need to pay.

Nicholas is not dealing in the imagination. He really wants to sell you part of himself. The London artist has learned perfumery and distilled elements of his own body in a home made refinery.

By doing so, he ironises the work of marketing departments and artists’ studios alike. So a bottle of Eau de Nicholas is too good to give away, or pour away. Though really that’s what it calls for.

Nicholas has a studio at Arcadia Missa gallery, Peckham, where his work sometimes appears in collaborative group shows. For more on this artist visit his website.

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