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Scent of Economic Loss
(4:32 min) During 2020, the coronavirus pandemic had halted all air travel and suspended any mass gatherings. This had a major effect on the multibillion-dollar trade in cut flowers. When demand dropped in the major auction house in Aalsmeer, Netherlands this had a ripple effect in countries like Kenya. Overnight, thousands of people were left jobless, thousands of of flowers were thrown to waste daily, the rose industry which is one of the largest export of the country, was in crisis.
It was during this time that I found myself on the Tambuzi rose farm. There I pitched the idea to the farm owner to try and salvage some of the rose supply and transform it into rose oil and rose water. Having observed alcohol distillation techniques that are common across the country, I developed a mini factory to extract rose oil from all the flowers that would have been sent to the Netherlands. Rose oil is of high value in the fragrance industry, and the idea of salvaging some of the supply by converting it to a more stable product became hopeful for many growers in the country.
During this time, we managed to extract rose oil from 70,000 roses, which is the total amount of flowers that would have flown to the Netherlands from that particular farm, each day. The film is a meditation on globalised supply chains, the precarity that people are placed in because of this, and the hopeful opportunity for a way forward in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Over Online Cinema
De komende weken presenteert TENT Online Cinema een reeks film en videowerken van Rotterdamse kunstenaars. Iedere week presenteren we een nieuw werk. Ieder werk wordt twee weken vertoond, zodat je het nog eens kunt zien of aan anderen kunt aanraden. Tip voor een optimale kijkervaring: doe de gordijnen dicht, luister met koptelefoon voor ideaal geluid, schenk jezelf wat te drinken in en ga er echt voor zitten!
Designer, artist and writer Coltrane McDowell has lived an international life that has informed his ways of seeing places, people and culture. Born in Mexico, he grew up in Kenya, holds a Canadian citizenship and is currently based in the Netherlands. McDowell’s work is preoccupied with context and how the designer’s point-of-view can be deconstructed. His projects often take the form of visual stories and are the results of sensitive community engagement.
McDowell is a Masters graduate of the Social Design course at the Design Academy Eindhoven. He previously studied Studio Arts and Western Societies & Cultures at Concordia University, Montreal. He currently works between the Netherlands and Kenya on themes relating to human rights, olfaction, and social enterprise.