Smell the Kings
– on the advantage of being a cultural outsider
While I lived for six month in Jerusalem during my exchange semester, I found my self usually in the role of the visiting tourist – in the way I observed people and spaces and got observed by locals.
Therefore I ask myself what advantage the role of the curious visitor could have and what my naive eyes could still observe as marvellous and unique that locals would eventually already dismiss as plainly usual and nothing to wonder about in daily live.
After having visited various places of wonder I decided to focus my research and project work on the most obvious, primarily non-religious place that reflects, in my eyes, local identity in its most authentic way – the Mahane Yehuda Street Market. It is incredibly rich in scents and charismatic individuals of different origins and religions.
Local place making efforts
During my research I found out that various local collaborations were created between artists, students and the city municipality and its department of tourism to revitalize the Market through artistic interventions.
The side-effect of this program was that real estate prices have quadrupled since the 2000s and a process of Gentrification started to take place pushing out small traditional shops resulting in social tensions.
The final work (publication and feature)
With the words of famous urbanist, Jan Gehl, in mind "First life, then spaces, then buildings – the other way around never works", I tried to find a way to engage with the place and its people by making use of my skills as Design Generalist and thereby contribute to local place making efforts with a rather different approach that would place the vendors in the spotlight and construct a story around their daily activities.
My final work comprises a collection of critical booklets that reflect on my personal experiences, the place's history, the geographical location and the recent developments of Gentrification resulting in the creation of three future scenarios for the market.
↓ Booklet compilation
Beyond the hand-out-publication, I focused on a campaign that emphasizes on the vendors' role as important place-makers and cultural value creators. (= the Kings) Therefore I refered to the "Proustian phenomenon", also called involuntary smell, that explains the relation of past experiences and its remembering through characteristic scents.
I created artifacts in form of spice paper with screenprinted portrait photographs of vendors that call upon the observers to "Smell the Kings!" and thereby relating the vendors to the omnipresent of marvellous scents on the market.
↓ a vendor’s portrait screen-printed on self-made ‘scent-paper’ (paper-pulb mixed with herbs found on Mahane Yehuda Market)
Around 250 copies of the publication and the spice papers were handed out to local visitors, tourists and vendors. After explaining the concept to the vendors, I received an overall positive feedback. Most were proud to see their photograph on spice paper with the slogan: "Smell the Kings".
↓ Images of the publication reflecting on different aspects of the Mahane Yehuda Market
↓ Scent-paper making process