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Alum

Ashraf Osman


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I am drawn to the edges: edges can be at the forefront (cutting edge) or marginal; but they are rarely dull. Perhaps because I never really felt part of the mainstream, I am thoroughly disinterested by it. And like much of my identity, my curatorial interests have been bifurcated.

I came to the Postgraduate Programme in Curating from Lebanon via the US, with a background in biology and architecture. I had an interest in olfactory art that I was able to develop in my first year into an academic study of the genre in the 20th century. And during my time at the programme, partly out of an interest in the digital world and social media, I also developed an affinity for socially engaged art. At the program, I had the wonderful opportunities to meet two of the most inspiring socially engaged artists: interviewing Tania Bruguera for On Curating, and working with Jeanne van Heeswijk on a shared programme project in Zurich (Public Faculty No. 7). Following that, I had the great fortune to conduct my master project with the latter (see Master projects).

Afterwards, I continued building on my dual interests. What started as a few projects helping colleagues out during my second year, developed into a more formal practice called Artinect: Connecting Art. And after graduation, I co-founded the Scent Culture Institute (SCI), a hub for cultural producers (curators, academicians, perfumers, etc.) with a shared interest in the cultural dimensions of scent. One of my first projects at SCI was an Urban Scent Walk at the 2014 Bern Biennial (in collaboration with fellow alum, Marta Kwiatkowski).
This year, I’ve been co-curating a yearlong four-part olfactory exhibition series at Kunstmuseum Thun, titled Schnupperschau, exploring the museum’s collection through the angle of scent. And I’m continuing to develop a traveling olfactory art exhibition project, titled Scents of Exile, in partnership with the world’s leading fragrance company, Givaudan. The project placed 5th in the ApexArt competition this year, out of 532 proposals from 75 countries worldwide.
www.ashrafo.com