One of the more talked about pieces at the 2016 Armory Show vernissage—mainly because it was one of the few attempts at titillation in a relatively tame fair—was Romina de Novellis’s performance La Gabbia, which consists of the artist sitting naked in a chicken wire cage. A staff member on the stand of Paris’ Alberta Pane Gallery, which brought the piece to the piers, shrugged when asked how long de Novellis would be doing this.
The artist occasionally pushes live roses through the holes and distributes edible versions made by the art world confectioner Kreëmart, encased in glass. Those flowers, which are also available for purchase for $110, also come with a perfume, Ella, created for the project by Arquiste Perfumeur.
The company’s founder Carlos Huber happened to be on-hand at the preview and said he’d been working on a perfume about roses anyway. The end result, he said, was like the project: “It begins floral, but then becomes carnal.” (He was liberally spraying samples and to our noses it was mostly just floral.) De Novellis’ performance also falls short of the carnal, since she is mostly covered up by her hair and the surrounding roses. In this, Huber saw a metaphor. “She’s covering herself up with the roses,” he said, “but also, of course, she’s destroying the roses.” Powerful stuff.