Friday, February 01, 2013

Woodsy Imbalance

Woodsy Disharmony by Ayala Moriel
Woodsy Disharmony, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
If you lasted as a reader till the end of this week - then I hope you have felt a bit of the difficulties and demands of the creative process. Not limited to perfume creation is the pre-existing feeling of restlessness, discontent and even a sense of misery.

Something might be missing. Or disturbing my peace. Shaking my existence to the core. Or otherwise - fills my heart with so much joy that it is not possible to contain and has to spill elsewhere, be shared in a more appropriate way then hugging every stranger on the street or jumping up and down at the tip of a hat.

It's the initial sense of imbalance, disharmony, that initiates or triggers the creative process. It's not coincidental that artists are ever so often walking a fine line between madness and sanity. Over-sensitivity or attention to beauty can be quite distracting, or even destructive. And the inability of one's heart to stay numb or blind to suffering and injustice can be maddening.

I was asked several times to comment on the role of perfumery as an art. And I usually decline committing to such definitions. For several reasons but primarily because of a certain ambivalent gut feeling I have with over-exalting my profession and work.

Perfumery as an art is not nearly as accessible as other art forms, because of expense, distribution, life shelf and other technicalities. It is consumed like a commodity, and while it taps deeply into one's psyche - it's the one art form that, in my humble opinion, only becomes art once it is treated as such by the "audience" - the person wearing it or experiencing it.  Unlike a melody or a painting, a story or a poem, it requires a lot more points of references to be appreciated as art, and not just as part of the surrounding.

A perfume's meaning really does not come into existence until the wearer or the smeller gives it meaning: association with certain events, emotions, people or memories. Not to mention coming to contact with the skin or the medium it's meant to be carried out in or dispersed through.

Additionally, perfume on many levels is like a drug or a medicine that acts deeply on our psyche. Call me self-prescribing, self-proclaimed and appointed doctor of my own soul. And let those who are interested in my little pharmacy explore and and experiment with my wild cocktails.

My greatest challenge in recent years has been staying true to my creative or so-called artistic voice. Not to mention maintaining a viable business while I'm at it. To say that I'm sick and tired of the perfume industry is an understatement. The non-stop pressure to churn up new, meaningless scents is pointless and insulting to consumer's intelligence as The Non Blonde likes to remind us from time to time. This only degrades the "art" of perfumery and reflects negatively at whatever art is left in this field. It's politics are exhausting. It's intricate schemes of control and regulations against natural raw material while the rest of the world is releasing pollution and toxins into the air, earth and water make zero sense. 

Not because I run out of things to "say" - I learned the hard way that when you live your life fully, including embracing the quiet, empty or dull periods, the muse will come to you; but rather because I want to have more time to listen to myself and the trees in the forest. Because I want to create from my heart. Because I want to be heard even if it's very noisy around sometimes to the point of deafening oblivion. Because I want to find my own harmonies in a world that seems to go against the grain and disrespect harmony --
I have made it my mission for this year to not release a new perfume. It won't stop me from being creative with scents or invent new things in my lab. But it has to be at my own pace. It has to go through a certain process that no PR agency or tight deadline can force into a set form.
Now let's see if my business can survive.

In the picture: scent strips on my little bulletin board at my lab, dabbed with fire tree, cistus, red cedarwood and blue cypress oils. Very disharmonious. I stumbled upon this disaster while working on a new project - a beard oil.

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