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Evgeniya Panina’s Diary

My mediator’s diary

In November, I decided to participate in Garage’s project Art Experiment and earn some extra money during the New Year holidays. For one month, together with other mediators, I attended training sessions, seminars, and lectures. I liked that the theme of smell as the main protagonist surfaced in front of me itself, due to external, almost random circumstances, and I plunged into it with interest.

Toward the end of the training process, when an understanding of the project—its architecture, subject and specificity—had already formed, I had to define my own role in it. Wishing to acquire the most special and novel experience for myself, I decided to become the host of a perfumery masterclass. This role seemed the most compelling to me among the variety of mediators’ positions available at Art Experiment. The fact that all future workshop hosts had to undergo an additional training session at the studio of Anna Agurina, the creator of perfumery compositions for the workshop, was also intriguing.

During the opening shifts launched before the New Year we worked with special groups: migrants’ children, hard of hearing visitors, people with learning disability. Those shifts were very intense and emotional for me.

At the beginning of each workshop I recommended its participants to listen to their inner self and make a wish or give themselves a promise/goal. The perfume they created afterwards could become an anchor connecting the smell with the person’s intention to realize their idea. We collectively listened to perfume chords and shared our personal imagery invoked by them. It was nice to see how someone relaxed and decided to share their feelings and sensations inspired by a particular smell. We were co-tuning ourselves together. The whole process was full of empathy and subtle tenderness. When the guests immersed into creativity, mixed components, and then introduced each other with the resulting perfume, which expressed themselves, I felt happiness together with them. Oftentimes at the end of the workshop I realized that I didn’t want to part with these people.

Each shift felt like a homogenous flow where group went after group and resembled a continuous dance with elements of improvisation. Such pace opened up somewhat of a sensual channel in me, forging a situation where the state of being here-and-now was experienced very intensely. Despite physical exhaustion, I often found myself in a slightly exalted state of delight and tenderness after shifts. I remember, once I was on the underground, going home and trying to come up with a witty verbal frame for the affective maxim that “Garage teaches [us] to love people”.

To conclude, I would like to underscore that my work at Art Experiment 2020 was marked by careful attitude, emotional inclusion, and tenderness toward others.

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