Anicka Yi

Investigating the powers of olfactory sensation


Artist Anicka Yi’s work involves scent, tactility and perishability as a means to reconfigure the epistemological and sensorial terms of a predominantly visual art world. At MIT, Yi has explored MIT’s cutting-edge research in designing materials with unique biological properties.

Read more.

Public Events

Exhibition at the MIT List Visual Art Center

May 22, 2015 – July 26, 2015

Departing from the ambiguity between the significations of taste as a sense and taste as aesthetic discernment, Anicka Yi’s work for the MIT List Visual Arts Center foregrounds her ongoing project The Flavor Genome. The artist’s sculptural installation examines how “flavors”—visual, olfactory, gustatory, auditory—can form sense memories and spur longing, though their cultural and economic value is subject to global consumerism and a politics of taste. For the exhibition, the artist will create a large, illuminated pond containing synthetic and biological matter such as hair gel and the cellulose “leather” that grows from the bacterial cultures in kombucha tea. The gallery is scented with menthol—which for Yi recalls the dish Mint Pond, a plate of molecular gastronomy she once consumed at elBulli, the famous but now defunct restaurant. The installation also features an intermittent soundtrack playing over speakers, as the exhibition plays on ideas of good and bad taste throughout.

Accompanying Yi’s exhibition, the List Center is producing the artist’s first catalog, 6,070,430K of Digital Spit. The book contains an essay by Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement at the New Museum, New York; an interview between Yi and Caroline Jones, Professor of Art History, MIT; and an essay by exhibition curator Alise Upitis. 6,070,430K of Digital Spit is published by Mousse Publications. Purchase the book.


Research visit
Week of October 20, 2014

IAP workshop and research visit
Week of January 20, 2015
IAP Workshop The Art and Science of Bacteria, Co-taught by Anicka Yi and Tal Danino, Research Scientist

MIT Visiting Artist Anicka Yi teams up with Postdoctoral Fellow Tal Danino to present their current work to engineer a collectively scented bacteria, created from the DNA of 100 women. Participants will learn about the art and the science behind the project.

Research and project development
Spring 2015

Exhibition at the MIT List Visual Art Center
May-July 2015


In the Media

W Magazine: Hugo Boss Prize Winner Anicka Yi Is Forcing the Art World to Take Scents Seriously

New York Times: At M.I.T., Science Embraces a New Chaos Theory: Art

Artsy: 2015: The Year In Art

New York Observer: An ‘Olfactory Art Installation’ From an MIT-Trained Artist

Boston Globe: Anicka Yi creates art for all of the senses at MIT List Center

Brooklyn Rail: ANICKA YI: 6,070,430K of Digital Spit

Art News: Unforgettable: Anicka Yi at Kunsthalle Basel

New Yorker: Scent of a Woman

Art in America: What’s that Smell in the Kitchen? Art’s Olfactory Turn

Artspace: Scent of 100 Women: Anicka Yi on Her New Viral Feminism Campaign at The Kitchen 

The Creators Project: The Sights (and Smells) of Anicka Yi’s Bacteria Art Show 

Artforum: Anicka Yi at The Kitchen

The Scientist: Microbial Masterpieces: Artist Anicka Yi explores the beauty of bacteria

Frieze: Narratives of Scent and Material Decay

New York Times: Anicka Yi: ‘Divorce’

Art Observed: New York – Anicka Yi: “Divorce” at 47 Canal Through June 8th


MIT List Visual Arts Center

MIT Museum Studio

Tal Danino

Blog: A ‘freer world,’ under your nose: Anicka Yi’s olfactory art

Exhibition catalogue: Anicka Yi: 6,070,430K of Digital Spit. 2015, MIT List Visual Arts Center and Mousse Publishing