Scent Masquerade: Gendering your Nose

ckster_2017_banner_fb_smallDo you remember the commercials that promote deodorants and openly appeal to sexist phantasies? Women are drawn in hordes to any male who has sprayed himself liberally with the deodorant – the “Axe effect”. The commercials have been known as the world’s sexist advertising campaign for many years.  The commercial “strictly for men” (1996) can even be viewed as a gender hack: A woman used her boyfriend’s grooming product!  And –  what a surprise! – women in the street are suddenly really horny for her. And, of course, she’s angry! She goes right to her boyfriend: “Hey, did you know about this?”.  In fact, the use of scent is highly gendered. Crossing the boundaries between gender, scent & culture Claus Noppeney and Bettina Rychener contribute to the upcoming festival “Ckster” in Bern.


Ckster is the art & science festival at Bern exploring hacking as a creative strategy in society and culture. And the focus of the 2017 edition is gender hacking: Scent Masquerade: Gendering your Nose.

During the interactive part of the session the participants individualized and scented a t-shirt. The material offered to odorize the shirt was taken from various lifeworlds: food, party, body odor, perfumer etc.  Here are some snapshots of our session:

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Finally, a short presentation reflected on the previous experience in the context of iconic advertising campaigns, scientific insights,  cultural and artistic projects as well as critical inquiry. A summary in four provocative statements:

  1. Identität riechen! Gerüche identifizieren! Geruchsidentität!
  2. Geruch gehört zum geschlechtlichen Selbstverständnis und stellt es zugleich in Frage!
  3. Gender macht Körpergerüche zum Geschäft!
  4. Gerüche kann man hacken: Gender Hacking!

Thanks a lot to Ckster, Julia Geiser and Adrian for making this possible. And thanks to this wonderful crowd of curious and interesting people. We enjoyed this session and our cooperation a lot!