Elena Cologni

New Hall Art Collection at Murray Edwards College of the University of Cambridge

20 October 2017- 7th of January 2018



During a residency at the Margaret Lowenfeld Library, Centre for Family Research University of Cambridge, to devise a strategy for engagement, artist Elena Cologni developed a nomadic and dialogic sculpture inspired by the Margaret Lowenfeld’s Mosaic Test box and related book (1954). The prop was used in a series of encounters in the city over the period of a year under the umbrella project Seeds of Attachment.

The exhibition … And Encounter marks the conclusion of the project in the UK, and includes the sculpture, together with traces of the process in the form of drawings, collages, and constructions.

Cologni’s artistic research and interdisciplinary approach explored the bond between parent and child, in relation to the experience of place attachment.

While Cologni set out to investigate the emotional, psycho-geographical condition of motherhood, the work also highlighted the crucial role of non-linguistic forms of dialogue at the core of processes of identity construction, and in relation to place.

The exhibition includes traces of the process adopted by the artist and the nomadic dialogic sculpture inspired by the Margaret Lowenfeld’s Mosaic Test box and book (1954), also on view, courtesy of the Lowenfeld Library, Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge. The prop was used in a series of encounters in the city over the period of a year under the umbrella project ‘Seeds of Attachment‘.

Also New Hall Collection Curator Eliza Gluckman oversaw Assistant Curators Maria Azcoitia and Seana Wilson selecting works from the collection, specifically to contextualise Cologni’s project into ecofeminism. Looking to ideas of ecology, the mother, place and identity, on display are pieces by Monica Sjoo, Judith Tucker,  Mary Cassatt, Celia Paul.

Further material: video essay by Cologni on research background here  and 8 minutes interview with Phil Sansom  here


Related events include the following


20 October 2017, 4-7 pm

New Hall Collection at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge

The round table, part of the Festival of Ideas in Cambridge , is chaired by New Hall Curator Eliza Gluckman, with artist Elena Cologni, author Susan Buckingham and Murray Edwards’ fellow Jenny Bavidge. It positions motherhood in relation to ecofeminism, ‘deep’ environmentalism, the caring role devalued in neo-liberal societies, to discuss the space between us, inter-corporeal space, micropolitics and haptic communication.


Attachment & Intraplaces: Discussing a Nomadic and Dialogic Approach in Spatialized Art Practice

Artist Talk on 21 January 2:00 pm, Freud Museum, London

Plate No. 11, Elena Cologni (2017/18), from the series Intraplaces

Artist, Elena Cologni will be discussing the research background of her artistic project Seeds of Attachment, which looks into the attachment between parent and child (Ainsworth, 1973; Bowlby, 1969; Freud, A.,1967) as crucial to place attachment (Seamon, D., 2013). We get attached to a place through our attachment to our family (Gordon Jack, 2010), but how troubling can it be to be detached from a place and loved ones (Bowlby, 1998)?

Cologni attempts to investigate this through the adoption of a nomadic (Braidotti) and dialogic sculpture though a non-verbal approach, she designed based on the principles of the Margaret Lowenfeld Mosaic Box (1954). Aspects of this process were exhibited at New Hall Art Collection at Murray Edwards College of the University of Cambridge, for which she developed the series ‘Intraplaces’.

Relevant background
Cologni’s in(ter)disciplinary research approach with a consistent interest in artist/audience/participant relational and perceptual dynamics has been centered around memory in the present for sometime, and in collaboration with academics (psychology, philosophy, cognitive science). Relevant projects include Present Memory and Liveness in Delivery and Reception of Video Documentation During Perfornance Art Events (AHRC funded 2004/06) in collaboration with Thomas Suddendorf, on ideas of mirror self-recognition using video delays; based on same issues, RE-MOVED, Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (ACE funded 2008); GEOMEMOS, Yorkshire Scukpture Park (ACE 2009); rockfluid in collaboration with Prof Lisa Saksida, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, when a more specific interest in place in relation to memory is addressed, including the live installation Spa(e)cious (Wysing Arts Centre, MK Gallery, Bergamo Scienza) related to James Williams’ concept of Specious Present (various Arts Council England grants 2011/); more recently Lived Dialectics, Movement and Rest at MuseumsQuartier in Vienna, was developed in dialogue with David Seamon and on place attachment (discussed at the Leonardo Laser series of talks in London).


Many thanks to Prof Susan Golombok Director Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge, and Dr Robbie Duschinsky Head of the Applied Social Science Group, University of Cambridge, who supported and advised on the scientific aspect of the project. Thanks to the participants for having entrusted the artist with their invaluable input.

‘Seeds of Attachment’ is funded by Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England.

It was supported by Art Language Location, Anglia Ruskin University; Lowenfeld Library, Centre for Family Research University of Cambridge; New Hall Collection at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge; Eleanor Glanville Research Centre, University of Lincoln; Freud Museum London.


images courtesy of New Hall Collection at Murray Edwards College of the University of Cambridge, and the Margaret Lowenfeld Library, Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge



2012, at Wysing Arts Centre, curated by Elionor Morgan with participants (here Becky, Elionor, Elisabeth) event of exhibition Wysing Arts Contemporary: Recollect 

Helena Blaker in coversation with Elena Cologni at Wysing Arts Centre

2012, MK Gallery, Curator Simon Wright

2013, Bergamo Scienza, Italy,  in conversation with Caterina Albano


This event is based on the multidisciplinary approach of Elena Cologni’s current project Rockfluid, where site specific art practice is underpinned by elements of geography, cognitive psychology and philosophy.

To walk through places involves kinaesthesia, memory and our awareness of where we are in any given present moment. SPA(E)CIOUS is a form of collaborative peripatetic practice, where produced and shared knowledge informs the artist’s  creative process. For participants, it creates the physical and psychological conditions to enhance an awareness of the perception – and illusion – of time and space in the present. Cologni inserts a variable element of interference in our experience, which varies every time Spa(e)cious takes place (e.g. an unstable platform). As the series develops from this, a dialogue with art critic  and film maker Helena Blaker also shapes the contextualisation of the outcomes.

Consciousness Literature and the Arts Conference, University of Lincoln, 2013



First presented at, How Performance Thinks Conference in 2012 (PSi Performance and Philosophy working group and Kingston University Practice Research Group), as a practical investigation of overlapping aspects of Philosophy and Psychology with Art, it was then presented in Art Museums and Gallery as well as a hybrid format.

SPA(E)CIOUS, is one of the outcomes of the project ROCKFLUID. This develops from a residency at the Faculty of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge (since March 2011), with a collaboration with scientist Lisa Saksida, with whom Elena shared a research interest in the relationship between memory and
perception. The dialogue evolved and is highlighted by open events in front of an audience (e.g. Science Festival 2011, Science Festival 2012 chaired by Caterina Albano), to inform the artist’s creative process


Cologni, E., SPA(E)CIOUS PRESENT, Dynamics of collective and individual experiences of space and duration within specious present, adopting technologies for enhancing audience engagement, while producing forms
of documentation, in ed. Julia Minors, How Perfomance Thinks conference-performance-thinks-proceedings


Arts Council England

University of Cambridge






Views from above, video installation (Northumberland Telescope) + text installation (3 paper publications, Hoyle Foyer library)
‘Limits of Seeing – Views from Above & Below’  @Institute of Astronomy, Sat 23rd June 2012,  organised by Visualise in collaboration with the Institute of Astronomy, the Science & Technology Faculty at Anglia Ruskin and Wysing Arts Centre. Participating artists will include heath bunting, Liliane Lijn, Marina Velez and Russell Cuthbert, Elena Cologni & Susie Olczak and participating scientists will include Dr Joao Linhares, Matilda Biba and Gerry Gilmore, Professor of Experimental Psychology, Institute of Astronomy.
Curated by Bronac Ferran, Carolin Crawford and Elinor Morgan.
Limits of Seeing, exhibition information , extract
Cologni claims (since her PhD, 2004) that her art research is part of the critique to the ocular-centric discourse within western philosophy, with reference to Martin Jay. Yet, the fascination she has for perception and its psychology, and geometry (all linked to the primacy of vision) is a recurring aspect in her enquiry. Her critical position is manifested through overturning given assumptions therein by adopting paradoxical formats,including: juxtaposing visual perception with physical positioning in space, drawing’proto-geometric’, non-exact shapes, setting up contradictory researchhypotheses. In this context ‘views form above’ is linked to her current project ROCKFLUID,residency at the Faculty of Experimental Psychology, Cambridge University, and it is built around a need to make the viewer aware of the space proximal to the body. This in relation to a technology driven life where most of us become increasingly familiar with (and hooked into) the views form above (GPS, Google earth,NASA satellites). A way to feel in control, by locating ourselves in the world,which Cologni parallels to renaissance perspective systems, whereby the central focus perspective represents man, but also God, the eye is God. Telescopes were built applying optics and perception studies and while telescopes offer a ‘view from below’ outwards in the universe Cologni’s work creates a critical context where the above connections become apparent.




video live installation, 2016 (10 mnts, canvas + pigment + minidv + sound system)

Territories of Duration, Karsi Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey 22 June – 19 July 2006
(with Cengiz Tekin, Dilek Winchester, Elena Cologni, Genco Gülan, Karl Ingar Røys, Nasan Tur, Shezad Dawood, Sophia Kosmaoglou, Turan Aksoy, curator Gulsen Bal)

A long stripe of elastic cloth draws an arch in the performance space, the lowest part being kept off the floor, hanging from the opposite sides of the ceiling. In the middle of the space, on the floor beneath the white material a stripe of yellow powder. The artist abandons herself onto the canvas till this touches the floor and rolls on it, so that the canvas picks up the yellow dust as this continues. A background voice tell about recent research done on the origin of pollen on the holy shroud and its journey from Palestine, Turkey through Europe. There is no religious statement behind the work, but a conscious decision to work on traces of the roots of the artist’s culture, in an almost distant and detached way. And yet, by enacting such piece, the artist wants to find herself in the position of the person leaving a trace of a journey. Even if it’s a 15 minutes one. The technology employed allows the audience to view close ups of the action from viewpoints that the artist has selected. One of which is the artist’s own.

extract from the text in the installation:

The plants whose pollen is transported by wind are said to have “anemofila” pollination, and produce a higher quantity of pollen if compared to the species called “entomofile”, whose pollen is transported by insects. On the shroud there are better possibilities to find anemofilo pollen type than the entomofilo type. A study was conducted on the intrinsic characteristics of pollen including: dimension, shape and weight, and also the ones coming from plants of single territorial zones and their anemofilo aspect thus determining speed, direction and periodicity of winds. Once those information were collected, the next step was to compare the samples of the pollen taken form the shroud using special masking tapes. Two fundamental considerations are to be made: numerous entomofili type pollen typical from Palestine, Anatolia are present; whereas less numerous are the anemofili type pollen coming from central Europe. The results confirmed though, that the journey was from Palestine to Anatolia and Europe: Jerusalem 33, Constantinople 944, Lerey 1353, Chambery 1453, Turin 1578.


The project curator Gulsen Bal brings forward artist responses by asking where borders and in-between spaces exist in trans-local and/or trans-national boundaries in re-locating European space in order to delineate dynamic answers to static structures.

In this context Territories of Duration explores the temporary mediation systems with its practical ramifications where the new ways of being in the world are re-read to follow unfamiliar routes by questioning ‘difference of identity’ and ‘difference’ which inhibits transitional interactions, and therefore it aims to create a cross-border dialogue at existential territorial boundaries within an interdisciplinary artistic approach.

For this group exhibition, Cengiz Tekin, Dilek Winchester, Elena Cologni, Genco Gülan, Karl Ingar Roys, Nasan Tur, Shezad Dawood, Sophia Kosmaoglou and Turan Aksoy have been invited to present works addressing the questions of new European space and articulation of re-building geographies.

related article Negotiating the In-Between? Karen Edwin, 19 July 2006 on MUTE 







2002, interactive installation (scented piramids + macs + projector), Lethaby Gallery, Central St.Martins, College of Art & Design, London (here with fav participant: Paola Cologni)

The installation of scents and digital responsive projected system was based on offering a picture of my favorite seaside place reconstructed through scents, and allow others to colour my memories with their responses.

DRAWING SCENTS: some observations (from 2003)

In Drawing  Scents, I investigate the association between smells with memory, and place to interrogate on presence and absence. I would like stimulate the viewers’ imagination, as they will select a colour in relation to the smells I have chosen and presented. The installation contains all elements I was hoping to be able to include in a work: narrative, interaction aiming to final creative output, this to change the contexts conditions.

It is designed in the following way: a number of sources of smell are placed along the wall. Next to each one a touch screen with a number of colours (sounds).  On the wall in front of it a screen shows the update of the generated outcome depending on the audience feedback.

The work functions through stages in relation to the participant’s behaviour: fruition (perception through smelling); participant’s feedback through association with colour among a given selection; the participant’s choice is connected to a series of parameters to implement a graphic program; Those parameters take shape on the digital screen behind the perceiver in the form of a colour: The colour fills the space and will influence the next participant’s reaction.

The audience response was the averaged after the exhibition, the RGB information of the selected colours over the period of the exhibition[1] was: 140, 116, 118.

The installation could be presented to an audience in a different country where the different reactions to the same olfactory stimuli will be translated into a different colour. In this sense the reaction is never explained, its illustration becomes part of the work itself in the form of a printed monocrome photographic piece.

Background. Visual/olfactory memory and memorable emotions

Our sense of smell is something that many of us take for granted, but odours do indeed have an effect on our daily lives. Imagine what it would be like walking into a movie theatre or a bakery and not being able to smell each of their distinct odours. Or what if you couldn’t smell the flowers in the spring or the smell of a brand new book. The sense of smell adds a richness to our lives that we aren’t always conscious of, but as soon as it’s taken away it dramatically changes our quality of life.

In primitive times smell protected our primitive ancestors from predators and helped them find food, but today we still rely on it more than we think: smell affects many aspects of life such as attraction, memories, and emotions. The purpose of this text is to mention some of the implications involved in the delivery of the piece Drawing Scents; the piece poses questions regarding the sense of smell, particularly the relationship between olfactory memory and visual memory, without though aiming to find scientific answers.

It’s enough to think how easily we perceive a smell and suddenly remember an event or person forgotten for years, to understand the connection between olfaction and memory. This section will describe odour memory, which refers to both memory for odours and memories that are evoked by odours.

It is first important to understand the physiology of olfaction. Rachel Herz Ph.D., a psychologist at Brown University, illustrates that the primary olfactory cortex, in which higher-level processing of olfactory information takes place, forms a direct link with the amygdala and the hippocampus. Only two synapses separate the olfactory nerve from the amygdala, which is involved in experiencing emotion and also in emotional memory[2]. In addition, only three synapses separate the olfactory nerve from the hippocampus, which is implicated in memory, especially working memory and short-term memory. Olfaction is the sensory modality that is physically closest to the limbic system, of which the hippocampus and amygdala are a part, and which is responsible for emotions and memory. This may be why odour-evoked memories are unusually emotionally potent. It may be significant that olfactory neurons are unmyelinated, making olfaction the slowest of all the senses. It not only takes the brain longer to perceive olfactory stimuli, the sensation of an odour also persists for greater lengths of time than do sensations of vision or audition. The fact that olfactory receptors are the only sensory receptors directly exposed to the environment may also help explain the relationship between olfaction and memory.

Certainly more research has been conducted in areas of visual and auditory information whereas many traits of odour memory have yet to be defined. For example, storage and decay processes, characteristics of memory processes, are not yet understood with respect to olfaction. Neurological imaging techniques could further refine our understanding of the way odour memory works.

Recent research has supported the existence of olfactory short-term memory[3]. Although there is no evidence for olfactory primacy[4], White and Treisman’s experiment provides evidence for recency in olfaction. The researchers explained this finding by mentioning that primacy is accounted for by rehearsal, “a cognitive process that may not be available for odours”. White and Treisman posited that olfactory memory occurs because individuals assign verbal meanings to olfactory stimuli. They also claim that just as olfactory sense is a crucial sense for other animals, “there is no a priori reason why humans alone should lack an olfactory memory”.

Rabin & Cain in 1984 found that odour memory was improved by familiarity and identifiability. Olfaction has often been implicated in learning processes, specifically in research done with animals.[5] Research has also been done on odour memory in humans. It has been shown that patients of Korsakoff’s syndrome, who suffer severe memory impairment, show less of an impairment for odour memory than for other kinds of memory. This suggests that there is in fact a mechanism for odour memory separate from other kinds of memory.

Much research has found connections between the structures of the olfactory system and the structures involved in memory in the modern human species. There have also been associations made between the two systems through their evolutionary histories. According to Rachel Herz, “the limbic system literally grew out of the olfactory bulb”. This notion that the limbic system evolved from the olfactory system could be the key to any smell-memory connection. A link has also been made between the presence of stem cells in both the olfactory and memory systems.[6]

The main reason why I became interested in olfaction it’s relation with and effect on emotions. This is discussed by Rachel Herz, who refers to the event of odour-triggered memories as instances of the “Proust phenomenon.”[7] This common term was adopted from Marcel Proust’s novel Swann’s Way in which the author famously describes this kind of experience. The narrator is overwhelmed by the odour of a Madeleine biscuit dipped in linden-blossom tea. This scents causes a flood of memories concerning a long-forgotten childhood event. In Proustian memories the cue is a smell. One of the most distinctive properties of odour-evoked memories is the powerful emotion that often accompanies them. Olfaction and emotion are intimately connected by the structures of the limbic system. In fact the limbic system is believed to have evolved originally as a system for the sophisticated analysis of olfactory input.[8]The most ancient part of the brain comprises the olfactory and limbic areas, the rhinencephalon. The olfactory and limbic structures evolved from the, literally, “smell-brain.” In Herz view the ability to experience and express emotion grew directly out of the brain’s ability to process smell.

Herz has demonstrated the primacy of feeling in her scientific experiments. Along with psychologist John Schooler of the University of Pittsburgh, Herz claims to have produced the first unequivocal demonstration that naturalistic memories evoked by odours are more emotional than memories evoked by other cues. The study compared odours and visual cues for five items as cues for autobiographical memories. The results supported that Proustian memories are distinctly emotionally charged. The emotionality of odour-evoked memories may arise from the unique neural connections that exist between the olfactory areas of the central nervous system and the amygdala-hippocampal complex of the limbic system responsible for emotion.[9]

These direct connections may distinguish odour memories cues from other sensory memory cues because no other sensory system has such intense contact with the neural substrates of emotion and memory. Neuroimaging studies have also shed come insight on the significant neural pathways involved in the Proust phenomenon. Neurological studies have shown that odour assessments are processed primarily in the right hemisphere of the brain, which is also the part of the brain for the most part associated with emotion. Neuroimaging studies have also revealed that encoding and retrieval of memories occur in different parts of the brain. Memories are stored in the left dorsal prefrontal cortex but they are retrieved in the right prefrontal cortex, the hemisphere of the brain most heavily associated with odour identification and emotion.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence that olfaction, memory and emotion are intimately linked is illustrated by the loss of the sense of smell. Anosmia, a Greek term meaning “lack of smell,” can often lead to anxiety and depression.

John Harrison illustrates June Downey of the University of Wyoming studies on synaesthic relationship colour-smell/taste . She states that cases of coloured taste have been less well described in the literature, though attributes this not to the frequency with which this variant occurs, but to the failure of those with it to notice that tastes (or smells) evoke colours. Downey suggests that this is because objects that smell and/or taste are usually bound to “an object that’ naturally has” a colour which masks the synaesthesic colour. This may or may not be true, but it is our experience that those with, say, coloured smell are very aware of the colour of the odiferous object, as well as the colour percept elicited by the smell.[10]

Harrison also suggests that ‘smell function has, for the last couple of decades, been of interest to a number of researchers who investigate Parkinson’s desease, which features olfactory loss amongst its sequelae. A consequence of this interest has been the development and sale of the smell identification test (SIT), originally by Richard Doty and others at the University of Pennsylvania…’[11] The test conducted by a synaethete patient showed an accurate result of shape perception in relation to smells such as: chery: wave shape, mint: flat, but not filling like bubblegum, banana: round shape, lilac: shaped like a drill bit…

Harrison makes a useful distinction to devise typologies of synaethetic experiences: synaesthesia induced could be sensational and imaginal. Essentially the issue is whether simply tasting (or smelling) a substance that elicits colour is both necessary and sufficient to elicit the synaesthesic experience. ‘Would the synaesthete automatically ‘see’ the colour on being stimulated with the appropriate odour on each occasion that the odour was presented?’[12] If the answer is yes then the perception can be described as sensational, using Downey’s parlance. However, if it is necessary for the synaesthete to conjour up the colour in an effortful fashion, then the perception might best be described as imaginal.

Harrison suggests that a definition of terms is helpful in discussing these issues and so he proposes two different terms to be used to refer to these different scenarios. The synaesthesia that are believed to be automatic, constant, and irrepressible the term ‘correspondence’ can be used to describe the relationship between the primary sensation and the synaesthesic percept. In contrast, when referring to synaesthesia that are learnt, and therefore not automatic, constant, and irrepressible, the term ‘association’ will be used.

(Elena Cologni, 2003)

[1] here some of the results out of the four adopted macs produced in real time and then collected: gmac2avge — rgb(171, 102, 112), mac3avge rgb(115, 123, 144), gmac4avge — rgb(165, 128, 112), gmac5avge — rgb(98, 115, 105) part of the text files produced: mac2,rgb( 255, 0, 0 ) mac3,rgb( 255, 0, 170 ) mac4,rgb( 85, 0, 255 )mac5,rgb( 0, 0, 170 )mac2,rgb( 255, 170, 85 )mac3,rgb( 255, 85, 170 )mac4,rgb( 170, 85, 0 )mac5,rgb( 0, 85, 0 )mac2,rgb( 255, 170, 170 )mac3,rgb( 170, 255, 255 )mac4,rgb( 255, 255, 0 )mac2,rgb( 255, 255, 170 )mac3,rgb( 85, 0, 170 )mac4,rgb( 0, 85, 0 )mac5,rgb( 85, 255, 170 )mac2,rgb( 170, 255, 170 )mac3,rgb( 0, 85, 255 )mac4,rgb( 255, 85, 0 )mac5,rgb( 170, 85, 85 )mac3,rgb( 170, 255, 255 )mac4,rgb( 255, 170, 85 )mac5,rgb( 170, 170, 255 )mac2,rgb( 85, 0, 255 )mac3,rgb( 170, 170, 255 )mac4,rgb( 255, 170, 85 )mac3,rgb( 255, 255, 85 )mac4,rgb( 170, 85, 255 )mac5,rgb( 85, 85, 0 )mac2,rgb( 255, 170, 255 )mac2,rgb( 0, 0, 85 )mac3,rgb( 170, 255, 0 )mac4,rgb( 255, 0, 85 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)j,rgb( 170, 255, 85 )b,rgb( 170, 170, 85 )j,rgb( 85, 255, 0 )b,rgb( 85, 170, 0 )Y,rgb( 170, 0, 85 )h,rgb( 255, 255, 170 )j,rgb( 0, 255, 255 )b,rgb( 255, 170, 85 )b,rgb( 255, 255, 0 )Y,rgb( 85, 85, 0 )b,rgb( 170, 85, 255 )h,rgb( 255, 0, 0 )j,rgb( 170, 255, 0 )b,rgb( 85, 85, 85 )h,rgb( 170, 255, 85 )j,rgb( 170, 85, 255 )b,rgb( 170, 170, 0 )Y,rgb( 170, 85, 0 )

[2] Herz R.S. & Engen T.1996. Odour memory: review and analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 3: n3,pp.300-313.

[3] White T. & Treisman M. 1997. A comparison of the encoding of content and order in olfactory memory and in memory for visually presented verbal materials. British Journal of Psychology 88: n3 459-469.

[4] the phenomenon in which stimuli presented at the beginning of a trial is remembered best

[5] For example, in a study by Frances Darling and Burton Slotnick  1994, rats quickly learned to avoid licking at a drinking tube containing an odourant and quinine hydrochloride. Learning occurred relatively quickly: within only one or two exposures to this particular combination of odour and tastant. This study suggests, then, that the brain may be equipped with a mechanism for olfactory memory. Slotnick (1993) provides further evidence for olfactory learning in rats. He shows that rats have actually achieved errorless performance in olfactory learning tasks. In 1991 W. Thomas Tomlinson (1991. Restriction of early exploratory forays effects specific aspects of spatial processing in weanling hamsters. Developmental Psychobiology 24: n4 277-298.) showed that normally reared hamsters demonstrated spatial memory for the location of odour cues in an allocentric task. The fact that animals often employ the olfactory sense to locate stored food provides further support for the existence of an olfactory memory of sorts. Stephen B. Vander Wall (1991)[5] showed that yellow pine chipmunks found caches (stored food) using their olfactory sense. However, in the study, olfaction only helped chipmunks localise moist seeds and not dry seeds. Olfaction therefore plays a part in an integrated system for recovering caches and finding hidden food. Another way in which animals use olfaction is identifying their young. Gary F. Mc Cracken did a study of Mexican free-tailed bats which examined nursing behavior of mother-pup pairs[5]. He found that mother bats returned to areas where they had nursed previously, and hypothesized that olfactory cues were used to remember these places.

[6] . Neurons associated with the nasal epithelium and the those in the hypocammpus, a prominent memory structure, are both capable of regrowth due to the presence of stem cells in these systems.

[7] Herz, Rachel S. “Scents of Time,” The Sciences, v40 i4 (July 2000): 34.

[8] Gray, Peter, Psychology, Third Edition, New York City: Worth Publishers, 1999.

[9] Anatomy of the Olfactory System.

[11] Harrison, J., p. 170.

[12] Harrison, J., p,170


supported by:

Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of The Arts, London
Università dell’Immagine, Milan,
Dragoco New York and Paris,
Oikos Milan




1999, participatory action, Oreste, Venice Biennale


To introduce the meaning of the today’s event, 3rd of July 1999 as part of the Oreste program at the 48th Venice Biennal, I will mention a few points, instruments of creativity and thinking.

“I see only from one point, but in my existence I am looked at from all sides” : this Jacques Lacan’s line is appropriate to suggest the sense of this performance, but also in tune with a part of my whole work.

Visual models often used in research to clarify or synthesise a particular theory, or define a method, are particularly useful in my own artistic practice.

The diagram that I refer to, comes from a drawing that I made in 1996. At that time I was making a choice among images coming from memory and contexts in which I had lived.

The new model, which comes from this, is not fixed in the past, instead refers to a continuous present time and to myself constantly changing context in which the I (=personal identity) meets the me (=other’s perspective and social identity). The passing of time effects the I as much as the me and the context itself, therefore the terms of the relation are also constantly readdressed.

The diagram is very simple to read: there is myself in the centre and has to do with my own position relating to a specific context, in and outside of Italy (my own country). It is also, as already said not fixed and refers to a continuous repositioning of myself within the contexts.  This dynamic generates an always new relation within the communication schema.


  • communication between people depends on codes of the context in which they meet
  • communication is not possible if the code is not shared by everybody
  • communication is possible if the barriers are removed
  • by creating a virtual context is possible to remove social barriers

“ …the me represents a person’s social identity, constituted in social interaction and shaped under the influence of social norms and public requirements with respect to behaviour.

The I on the other hand stands for one’s personal  identity , whose origin and development cannot be explained solely on the basis of experiences in social interaction, and which is subject to the anarchic spontaneity and creativity of a single identity.”

George Herbert Mead

Audience: people I met during my lifetime.


  1. to remove our perception of each other based on assumptions that we made when met in a particular context, according to a particular role.
  2. to create a new context in which to exchange messages and therefore communicate to people who I met in the past in a different context.
  3. the use of words within social and cultural codes, has to show the poietic dimension and become instrument in the operation of loss of social norms let the personal identity emerge.

Cologni, E. (1999) Diagrammi, notes. Artist book (limited edition)


Oreste was not a group producing collective artworks, nor a not-for-profit organization. It was a variable set of persons, mostly Italian artists, who have been working together with the aim of creating spaces of freedom for ideas, inventions, and projects.

During the 48th Venice Biennale, from June 10th through November 7th 1999, on the occasion of an invitation to the exhibition dAPERTutto, Oreste set up an ongoing program of meetings, interactive performances, round table discussions, lectures, lunches and informal encounters. Almost one hundred events were organized, and more than five hundred people from the whole world took an active role in the project.

Progetto Oreste


Cologni, E., ‘Institutions in Great Britain: Artist as Researcher. Diagrams’, Oreste at the Venice Biennale, AAVV, Charta, Milan 2000