Odos Non Grata
- Asima Samanta
- 2021 Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander Artists Support Grant
Penn staff member Asima Samanta will present Odos Non Grata, an art installation at the LGBT Center featuring fabrics dyed and scented with natural South Asian produce and spices, inspired by a racist incident Samanta experienced on their commute to Penn. The project is meant to explore the dichotomy of hateful, biased, and racially motivated expressions of disgust towards India’s unfamiliar odors, as experienced first-hand by the artist, with the simultaneous ubiquitous admiration for Indian aesthetics. The predominantly white American gaze is quick to marvel at how vibrant, striking, and colorful some depictions of India are—admiring or even appropriating scenes of Holi, the Festival of Color, as well as ornately painted buildings or women adorned in scintillating saris and jewelry. Yet, one of the most searched for questions on Quora regarding the topic of India is: “Why do Indian people smell like curry?” Recently, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College even tweeted, “Indian food is terrible and we pretend it isn’t.” Odos Non Grata will inundate the senses with a vivid display of natural pigments and the pungent aroma of traditional/Ayurvedic plants, spices, and produce.