Marlborough is pleased to present Tender, a new sculpture by Mike Bouchet and his second solo exhibition with the gallery. Occupying the entire 45,000 cubic feet of gallery space, Tender is the synthesized fragrance of US Dollar bills. Although invisible, the sculpture, in fact, fills every molecule of the space.
Working closely with senior perfumer Marc vom Ende of Symrise—one of the world’s foremost fragrance and flavor companies—Bouchet engaged in a process of replication, which required over a year of scientific research and development. The resulting formula is a complex amalgam of over 100 elements with aromatic notes from multiple inks, leathers, and papers, along with traces of human odors and other matter that lend a “handled” characteristic to this distinct scent.
Research shows that the dollar bill is a highly charged unit capable of inciting physical and emotional responses in the human body. Its fragrance can readily engage the psychological and emotional nervous system of our society, and yet it is not easily identified, unlike the smell of a cinnamon bun or a new car interior. The emotional effect of a scent on humans is a well-established science and industry. The same sense that evokes a childhood memory is now a reliable tool for manipulating consumers. Tender extends this effect to the white cube and steers readings toward more abstract and metaphorical considerations.
The exhibition opens to the public on January 19, 2017, which coincidentally aligns with the inauguration of president- elect Donald Trump. The introduction of the fragrance on the eve of such a charged political moment, the sculpture acts as a distillation of power, constructed reality, and human desire.