The Senses


The Senses: Play in Camera (sense of sight)
The Senses: Play it by Ear & An Ear for You (sense of sound)
The Senses: Ô d’Oriane (sense of smell)
The Senses: Zucchini (sense of taste)
The Senses: Intimacy (sense of touch)

The Senses is a collection of works completed over 16 years.



With video and audio recordings, a live film element, projected photography, as well as the encounter with stimulating cuisine The Senses is also a homage to the works of Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, Italo Calvino, Primo Levi and Hanif Kureishi.

The senses are our bodily means to perceive the world around us. They nourish our understanding but we have the choice what to do with a life, whether we choose to behave with cruelty in our human relationships, as do most of the protagonists in all of the The Senses, which are in effect morality tales.




The video installation Play in Camera (sense of sight) is about the gaze beheld in mirrors, or in the eyes of others: 3 depicted characters have all behaved in a regretful manner towards others during their lives and as punishment may dwell after death, only in the hell of digital impulse repeated in the video projection (a fourth projection linked to a camera in-corp-orates the spectator into the spectacle). The texts are quotations from Sartre and Beckett’s work. Beckett and Sartre were partisans during WW2.

3 stories to be heard as digital compositing version in Play it by Ear (sense of sound) (with visual image An Ear for You) encompass comedy and more serious thoughts on the nature of catastrophe in unknown places (falling asleep under the sunbed, or while driving), with foreign languages (falling asleep while listening to a foreign language course), where undercurrents of racism and love betrayal are revealed.

It is said some have “an ear for music”; in German the expression goes: “Ich habe ein Ohr für Dich”, literally: “I have an ear for you” - time to listen. An Ear for You is a portrait of Amin Farzanefar’s ear; although most of my German text corrections are undertaken per email attachment, English being my mother tongue, some are pursued on the telephone.

The photo installation Ô d’Oriane (sense of smell), as with the video piece, owes its existence to literary references. This piece is dedicated to the ephemeral nature of beauty; sepia-coloured, magazine-like images of a semi-undressed stylist have been augmented with quotations from the works of Calvino and Levi that tell of the search in one’s memory to locate the exact odour of a person loved and lost long ago. The photos have been perfumed with Chanel no. 5. Unlike Coco Chanel, who was a Nazi supporter1, Levi and Calvino were active as partisans. The allusion in this work to the individual response towards Fascism is almost subliminal, like a delicious scent or a bad smell.

The artist tells her own wicked story in Zucchini (documented on video) at her birthday party celebration in a Berlin gallery, after the guests have consumed a meal of courgette curry, prepared by her (sense of taste). The anecdote is about vegetables and sex toys and a gathering together of friends for Xmas in Cologne: 2 German Christians, 2 Palestinians and the artist herself, an Anglo-German-Jew.

Literary works are once more cited in the final piece Intimacy (sense of touch), this time from a different piece by Sartre, a pre-war short story, together with quotations from Kureishi’s contemporary British book. Both authors have taken up the same subject of intimacy and marriage breakdown. The visual data taken between Xmas and New Year 1991, is of the artist and male friend engaged in sexual activity filmed by camera on a tripod.

Tanya Ury


1 In 1939, at the beginning of the Second War, the designer decided to close her shops. She believed that it was not a time for fashion. She took up residence in the Hôtel Ritz Paris and for more than 30 years, Gabrielle Chanel made this hotel her home, even during the Nazi occupation of Paris. During that time she was criticized for having an affair with Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a German officer and spy who arranged for her to remain in the hotel.