Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

Zone C Exhibition Project

Smells Like Spirit (One Night Only), 2012

Suitable for all ages

In association with James B. Maxwell

Thank you to Joanne Becker and Dylan Butman

Smells Like Spirit, 2012

Hadley+Maxwell - Berlin, Germany

Sound and Light Installation

For one night only, roadies will perpetually “load in” Nirvana for a final concert. This sculptural-sound installation features instruments, equipment, and lighting as the actors in a performance of sound and light, staged at a theatre loading bay.

In this séance, the choreographed equipment will summon the spirit of Kurt Cobain and the crowds of fans who both idolized him and precipitated his tragic demise. In 1991 Smells Like Teen Spirit became an anthem for a generation, claiming “It’s fun to lose and to pretend.” Three years later Cobain wrote in his suicide note, “The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by … pretending as if I'm having 100% fun.” How does a crowd create a star, a celebrity, or call a spirit like Kurt into existence? At what point does celebration manifest tragedy?

Smells Like Spirit continues the artists’ interest in the human voice as a threshold between the social and the individual. The crowds of Nuit Blanche will experience an echo of the unnatural power that the roar of a crowd can produce–for better or worse.

Hadley+Maxwell have been collaborating since they met in Vancouver in 1997. They use comparative strategies between diverse media to engage the relation between private life and public appearance, often employing iconic images and traditional forms as they are expressed in pop-cultural, artistic and political movements.

Related works include 1+1-1, in Nomads (National Gallery of Canada, 2009), Standing Wave Séance, in Kurt (Seattle Art Museum, 2010), and Skies of the Heart, in the Marrakech Biennale, Morocco (2012).


Elgin Theatre Loading Dock
160 Victoria Street

This project is outdoors.