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History and Description of the Production of ‘Walpurgisnächte’: A Hexed Undertaking?

The original and entirely hand-made and printed Walpurgisnächte was produced in 2015, with a limited run of six copies. The aim with the Facsimile Series has been to produce a hardier version of the delicateoriginal, so that it could enjoy wider distribution. During the first attempt at this, a copy of the initial run was mysteriously ‘lost’ by an over-enthusiastic graphic designer, thus leaving only five originals. This loss was the beginning of the book’s misadventures, which led to it taking a further three years to reach completion, as the project went through a series of attempts at re-production (each attempt again being ‘mysteriously sabotaged’ at the printing stage). For the most part, the volume seemed to induce a fascination – and then subsequent destruction – by those brought in to work on it. Finally, at the end of 2018, The Facsimile Series ‘rolled off the press’.
The result is a more robust ‘hand-book’ that maintains the translucency and tactile nature of the original, whilst also further exploring its themes. The Series Walpurgisnächte is comprised of four pressings, each reflecting different aspects of the original, in conjunction with the ongoing project: ‘Parallel Lives with Three Suitcases’; as the title implies, a near impossible equation and balancing act, achieved via deft sleight of hand. The facsimile production entailed a juggling act of intentional interference of the mechanised process and hand tailoring of the results, whilst trying to evade both human and mechanised disruption.

Series 1: This more utilitarian version maintains the simplicity of the original and is the Ostdeutsche Dorf-Disko ‘Standard Issue’ edition. The term ‘Dorf-Disko’ (Village Disco) refers to the sub-rosa tactics employed by perceived dissidents in the GDR (whilst trying to produce and disseminate culture that could at any moment be discovered and shut down by bureaucratic state control).

Series 2: 1/9 and 2/9 ncludes the addition of more individually-crafted and bespoke pages, and their accompanying odour samples, to further illustrate the qualities of the original geographical locations recorded in Walpurgisnächte. In synaesthesic* fashion, the odours also stand-in for ‘invisible colours’. Please be aware that shipping will take a day or so longer than Series 1 as we re-odourise the publication prior to sending.

Series 2: 3/9 – 9/9 and Series 3: The basic handbook as in Series 1 but with additional outer protective cover and 10ml Walpurgisnächte Odour. Price - £50.00.

Walpurgisnächte Odour 1st edition 2012, 2nd edition reformulated 2019.

Originally formulated in 2012 as one of the many odours to accompany the exhibition The Orange Smell of November – Barbara Ryan and Annette Stahmer at Art Lab Berlin. Walpurgisnächte was created to mirror the particular odours found in parks, railway sidings and Hinterhöffe (back courtyards) in Berlin in late Spring – in particular the odour trail between Prenzlauer Allee and Buch, via Karow, with a detour through Wartenberg S.Bahnhof.

Notes include:
The quickening of dank vegetation after the flat smell of winter, the sun on a patch of back wall as the lichen become powdery and airborne; Hinterhöffe turning mild, dusty and unexpectedly exotic in the yellow light – squashed peaches, rotting green apricots and warm earth under aromatic bushes that have adapted well to a cold climate; quickly growing Wilder Kerbel and flavoured green tea; freshly-dropped citrus peels – orange and mandarin; grasses and ‘grass’ (just a smidgeon); vanilla, leather and suede, citrusy lime aftershaves and CD Deodorant ‘Glücksgefühl’ with its pheromonal-rendering of orange blossom; industrial glue and ice cream under wooden scaffolding, steel tubing after the rain, watermelon – not entirely ripe but on the turn nonetheless; waste ground where Artemisia and Woodruff will take hold, Melissa stalks and powdered sugar and fecund dampness; the smell of ‘Maria aus Leipzig’ and her mother from 20 plus years ago…
Walpurgisnächte conjures up the urban environment as late Spring prepares for Summer – The door to the year now open after the vernal equinox.

Series 4:
By the time one gets to Series 4, individually-crafted colour plates created with absolute colour accuracy to their accompanying odour samples flesh out the book, as a more obvious translation of synaesthesic perception. Characters from both the corporeal world and recorded ‘ghost frequencies’ manifest as signature perfume bottles – a further translation of both actual and mythical entities transmuting into iconic or fetishised objects.

Not currently available at time of writing – but please check later-on for availability.