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This Perfume Smells Like the Apocalypse

Artists bottled blood and thunder to capture the heady scent of the end times

At least the scent of despair comes in a pretty bottle. (T&C)
smithsonian.com

Want to know if the end is near? Forget looking for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse—just start sniffing. A pair of artists have created a new fragrance that smells just like the Book of Revelation in all its grisly glory.

“Apocalypse” is the brainchild of Thomson & Craighead, a pair of artists known for their work using sound, video and the internet. The pair had the perfume produced in a special limited edition for a new show in London that finds inspiration in everything from nuclear waste to self-help.

Visitors to the show are given a sample of the doom perfume, which incorporates olfactory elements found in the Book of Revelation. Also known as The Apocalypse of John, the Biblical doomsday book is filled with over-the-top imagery of a terrifying end of days filled with blood, fire, and wrathful judgments. Everything from earthquakes to dried-up rivers to a vengeful beast can be found in the book, which some take to predict the end of the world and others take as a metaphor for the persecution of early Christians.

The perfume incorporates four of those elements: blood, which is represented by aldehydes, lactones and metallic rose materials; thunder, which is represented by ozone and earthy scents; earth, which is represented by things like patchouli and oakmoss; and flesh burned with fire, which is represented by notes of cumin and other scents. The fragrance is "at once highly desirable and sickening," say the artists, "the product of a time in which both consumerism and politics feed on fear and fallacies of all stripes."

It’s not the first time artists have used the nose to make a point—Lernert & Sander, for example, once crafted a smart-alecky perfume made up of notes of every perfume on the market to skewer the booming fashion fragrance market. (Spoiler alert: It smelled like, well, everything.) But “Apocalypse,” which is being sold in a limited edition of just 50 bottles, is perhaps the first time people can actually wear the end times on their wrists.

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