LA Perfumer Sherri Sebastian Creates an International Scent Journey for the Hammer Museum Guest Post!

Guest post about this exciting event for a limited time and number of guests to see this scentsational event at the Hammer Museum.
Guest post courtesy of Diane Biancamano and a bit that I pulled from the Hammer Museum website!


A Trip to Japan in 16 minutes, Revisited sold out quickly but you can still learn about the program at Open House: A Trip to Japan on Tuesday, January 7 at 7:30pm. Walk through the set of the performance and chat with the collaborators who made the program possible. Visitors will be able to see the one-of-a-kind scent propagation device, smell the contemporary scents developed to evoke Japan, and listen to the audio soundscape.
Open House: A Trip to Japan runs from 7:30 to 9:30pm.

About A Trip to Japan

In 1902 the German Japanese poet, artist, and critic Sadakichi Hartmann, also known as the “king of bohemians,” led a much-anticipated scent concert at the New York Theatre. Promising to suspend space and time, the concert was designed to offer an olfactory voyage from New York to Japan such that the “nose [was] guaranteed arrival in Yokohama.” After several production delays, the concert was slotted as the penultimate act on a popular Sunday burlesque music and comedy series. In a room filled with tobacco smoke and boisterous crowds, the act was doomed to fail. The artist bowed mid-performance amid catcalls and jeers and left the stage, never to publicly revisit the project.

Picking Up the Pieces!

The Los Angeles–based Institute for Art and Olfaction picks up where Hartmann gave up, presenting a collaborative contemporary interpretation of the failed scent concert at the Hammer Museum.

A Trip to Japan in Sixteen Minutes, Revisited consists of six segments, each accompanied by an original scent composition made by perfumer Sherri Sebastian along with experts in a range of fields to help replicate and improve on the original event my Hartmann.
Participants will be blindfolded so that they can enjoy an immersive olfactory experience that, in an updated version of Hartman’s ill-fated voyage, takes them from modern-day Los Angeles to Tokyo.

Sebastian Signs


Sherri Sebastian is no stranger to transporting people to exotic places. As a classically-trained perfumer and the entrepreneur behind fragrance brands Sebastian Signs and Purusa®, it’s her job to help people enhance their everyday reality through their senses. Sherri is a former New Yorker currently based in Los Angeles who worked at famed fragrance house International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) and now Fragrance West in Van Nuys. For her collaboration with IAO and Hammer Museum, Sherri creates six difference fragrances for a “scent journey” intended to take the audience on a sensorial trip from modern-day Los Angeles to Japan. Saskia Wilson-Brown, Founder & General Manager of IAO remarked,

“When deciding which perfumer to select for the project, the choice was clear. Sherri has both the creative chops to make the compositions evocative, exciting and edgy and the expertise to make excellent work in the context of a heavily collaborative project.”

The performance begins with a blindfolded audience led into a room with six, two-minute vignettes, each representing a particular phase of a trip to Japan accompanied by an audio track by Bennett Barbakow, live Foley effects by Julia Owen and limited edition program by Micah Hahn. As the audience moves through each vignette they will experience the scents conveying the olfactory landscape for each phase of the journey. The scents created by Sherri for the olfactory voyage will include: Supershuttle to LAX, Airplane, Narita, Tokyo, Hotel, and Dreamscape and will be emitted into the room via a replication of Hartmann’s original “scent machine,” recreated by Kamil Beski and Eric Vrymoed.

The significance of reviving this performance is that the original 1902 New York attempt by Hartmann was an unmitigated fiasco due to various venue and logistical variables beyond his control. Sherri is thrilled to be a part of this exhibition. “We have a unique opportunity and responsibility to reinterpret Sadakichi Hartmann’s vision successfully as the artist originally intended,” she noted. “As an artist and entrepreneur myself who has experienced success and failure alike, I can relate to what it must have been like for Hartmann to put his soul into the project and not have it come to fruition in the way he envisioned.”

Sherri has been fortunate to have achieved successes throughout her career. Her innovative work has received FiFi and Perfumer’s Choice awards and nominations. Her travels, life experiences, and daily surroundings inspire her to create fragrances that help others experience a sensorial journey as they go about daily life. Sherri explains, “Perhaps you’re stuck in traffic or sitting in a meeting at work. While fragrance can’t take you out of these situations, it can help you embrace and enhance the moment, adding a pleasant layer to your everyday reality. If your experience with a fragrance I’ve created enhances your day, then I’ve done my job.”

*Seating for these intimate performances is very limited; guests should RSVP at

ALL HAMMER PUBLIC PROGRAMS ARE FREE. Parking available under the museum, 3 hours for $3.

Part of the curatorial department, the Public Engagement program collaborates with artists to develop and present works that create an exchange with the institution and with visitors. Enacted both inside and outside the galleries, Public Engagement projects range from re-envisioned security guard uniforms to library and orchestra residencies. Public Engagement was established in 2009 thanks to a James Irvine Foundation Arts Innovation Fund grant.

The Hammer Museum’s Public Engagement program was initiated with funding from The James Irvine Foundation. Trip to Japan in 16 Minutes, Revisited received generous support from Fragrance West.

Perfume: Sherri Sebastian
A perfumer with her feet in both the independent world (with her fragrance company Sebastian Signs) and the west coast’s only fragrance house (Fragrance West), Sherri Sebastian is a veteran perfumer: adaptable, smart and conceptual. Sherri will oversee and create the six scent compositions, providing the interpretive olfactory narrative to our modern-day trip to Japan.

Sound Design, Composition and Foley: Bennett Barbakow
Growing up with pianos, drums, and turntables, his addiction to musical toys has only gotten worse. An all-around Renaissance man in the creative media world, Bennett is a sound maniac – equal parts composer, sound engineer, audio designer, storyteller and inveterate tinkerer. He is the composer and owner at Huma-Huma, a music/sound house in LA and NYC. Bennett will oversee the sound design, composition, and general aural narrative of the concert.

Foley and Sound Recording: Julia Owen
Julia Owen has always been intrigued by the way our perception depends on the sounds we hear. His fascination brought her to Los Angeles where she studied audio engineering and fell in love with putting sound to picture and spoken word. Her sound editing, recording and Foley work can be heard on feature films and television shows as well as in museum installations both in the United States and abroad. Julia Owen will oversee the live foley element for the concert.

Scent Propagation Mechanism: Kamil Beski
Kamil is the owner and principal at Beski Projekts, a professional art installation, rigging, mountmaking, exhibit design and production service serving major art institutions, patrons, galleries and private collectors. Kamil brings years of experience making the impossible happen in institutional settings, working with museums such as LACMA and Thee Huntington Library (among others) on projects that span the globe. Kamil and Eric will collaborate on the conceptualization and interpretation of Hartmann’s original scent propagation machine.

Scent Propagation Mechanism: Eric Vrymoed
A graduate of UCLA’s Fine Art Department, Eric’s art practice has him working with large scale, mechanical kinetic sculptures. As one half of the Beski Projekts duo, Eric is also experienced with mountmaking, exhibit design and rigging in large institutional settings. A California native, Eric works and lives in MacArthur Park, near downtown Los Angeles. Eric and Kamil will collaborate on the conceptualization and interpretation of Hartmann’s original scent propagation machine.

Graphic Design: Micah Hahn
An award-winning graphic designer by day, and a prolific typography designer by night, Micah Hahn has spent over twenty years as a professional designer in both the television industry and the art world. He’s been the recipient of well over a dozen Broadcast Design Awards (including the coveted Gold Award for his 2013 rebrand of Fuse Network), and his typographic and graphic design work is collected in the French National Archives. Micah will oversee the visual language surrounding the concert.

Research: Dr. Christina Bradstreet
Dr. Christina Bradstreet is an art historian specializing in the role of scent in art. She is close to completion of an academic monograph called Scented Visions: Smell in Nineteenth-Century Art which includes a chapter on Sadakichi Hartmann’s perfume concerts. Her publications include ‘A Trip to Japan in Sixteen Minutes: Sadakichi Hartmann’s Perfume Concerts’ in P. Di Bello and G. Koureas, Art, History and the Senses (Ashgate: Farnham, 2010) and ‘Wicked with Roses: Floral Femininity and the Erotics of Scent’ in Nineteenth-Century Art World Wide (March 2010). She works at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London.

Artistic Direction and Production: Saskia Wilson-Brown
Born to Cuban and English parents, raised between San Francisco and Paris, Saskia received her MA in fine art from Central Saint Martins in London. A producer and curator for visual art and film, she co-directed LA’s seminal Silver Lake Film Festival, ran international outreach and development for Current TV, and has consulted on a number of arts and film projects, internationally. In 2012 she launched The Institute for Art and Olfaction, a non-profit devoted to education and experimentation in perfumer

The Institute for Art and Olfaction was founded in 2012 by Saskia Wilson- Brown with the mission of advancing public and artistic engagement with scent. We do this by providing educational programs, building an archive of contemporary scent releases, offering a residency-based laboratory for cross-discipline experimentation, and by inciting innovation and collaboration between perfumers, scientists and other creative practitioners.

Stevie Wilson,

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