Incense Sensibility

Chris Rusak, Zine: Survey of Liturgical Incense, 2023, via

A couple of months ago, Los Angeles conceptual perfume artist Chris Rusak published a zine with a 9000-word survey of liturgical incense, its history, culture, and performance, and details of fourteen current sources of incense, including “several brands that are handmade by artisanal monks, some of which are not widely known and are hard to acquire due to their limited production.”

Like all of Rusak’s productions, it is beautiful and provocative of both sensation and thought.

Then today I saw that 56 Henry is currently staging a show by the Los Angeles artist and mage L, which includes Talismanic toroidal altar (2022-2023). As barely a novice in these matters, I can only quote from the press announcement:

Talismanic toroidal altar (2022–23) was initially constructed at Documenta 15 last year, in response to a curatorial request for L to conduct magic in service of their fellow artists. The main structure is a chromed coat rack from the D15 exhibition venue St. Kunigundis church, that was gifted to L by the local anarchist priest. One accoutrement hanging from the altar is a steel lemon juicer, utilized at D15 as an incense burner. For this exhibition, a new incense will be activated – 333 – that L co-created with perfumer Christopher Gordon of Maison Anonyme.

L, Talismanic Toroidal Altar, 2022, Aluminum clergy vestment rack from St. Kunigunis, crocodile skull, chain clasps, wood and steel scythe, lemon, aluminum badminton racket, ritually poured molybdomantic lead, quartz crystals, L’s broken mirror, webbing, fishing hooks, galvanized steel spring, selenite wand, ceramic vessel, steel citrus juicer ceremonially utilized as incense diffuser, copal incense, St. Germain herbal blend incense, steel lock, hot glue sticks, yarn, horseshoe from Montauk, pyrite, selenite, lead, glass jar with copal incense, protective stone from Germany. image via 56 Henry

The medium description is an invocation in itself, though it does also seem to be for a previous incarnation. L’s creations at St. Kunigunis were part of the Ghetto Biennial organized by Atis Rezistans, a Haiti-based artist collective. They resonate both formally and etymologically with the altar conjured by the Los Angeles artist collective A.S.T.R.A.L.O.R.A.C.L.E.S in collaboration with Dual Forces, a creative agency for Adidas and Nike, who all seem to exist in harmonic resonance with each other.

There is definitely something in the air out there.

L’s exhibition, Triplet states (+1), runs through October 22, 2023 []