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MOUTH OF DEATH

History: cannon 23 - SIGA nº  015898

  Cast in Paraguay during the government of President Fernando Solano Lopez, this cannon is inscribed with his name and takes us to A Retreat from the Laguna, a novel written by Alfredo d'Escragnolle Taunay in 1872. The author, also a participant in the expedition that began in Rio de Janeiro in 1865, describes the difficulties that the Brazilian military experienced in their 1867 expedition to the Laguna farm, owned by the Paraguayan dictator.

 

  This conflict was a bloody episode of the Paraguayan War (1864-1870), which involved Paraguay and the Triple Alliance, made up of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. One of the novel’s main characters is the guide José Francisco. The expedition faced several challenges, including walking more than two thousand kilometers; diseases and epidemics of typhus, cholera and beriberi; and a lack of food. It ended with the defeat and death of almost all the artillerymen. While the reason for going towards the Laguna farm was the great need to find cattle to feed the battalion, it turned out that the farm offered nothing. As a result, the Brazilian army had to withdraw, leaving behind sick and wounded people — mostly black and military subordinates.

 

  The disaster would have been even greater if not for the intervention of the Terenas and Guaicurus-Kadiwéus Indians, who, using their own guerrilla tactics, managed to stop the advance of the Paraguayan troops. The Paraguayan War ended only with the death of leader Fernando Solano Lopez in March 1870, when he was wounded by a spear blow and shot with a rifle. The war had many consequences, among them the looting of the country, the decimation of the population, and the demolishing of the infrastructure. Paraguay was forced to pay a war debt to Brazil that terminated only in 1943, because of the signing of trade, navigation and tourism agreements.

 

smell Mouth of Death PB00014JB

  We begin by asking, What is the smell of death?

 

  Science's answer is a surprise, because it tells us that soon after dying the body emits a fresh odor, hexanol, similar to freshly cut grass. As the days go by, the decomposition causes other, very different odors somewhat like nail polish.

  This research, developed by the University of Huddersfield, in England, raises the theoretical possibility that each body, after death, may develop a unique, characteristic odor, related to the liberation of its unique combination of chemical substances and released as a kind of fingerprint or olfactory digital impression.

 

  For this installation, we started the process of smell development by simulating the odor of a body at the beginning stages of decomposition, since for ethical reasons, access to Cadaverina and Putrecina is restricted. Hence, we added the animalistic, carnal Castoreum chord arrangement, a musk and amber note with strong, pungent characteristics reminiscent of leather. The accord also includes a damp, gray and cold side of death as well as a narcotic and opulent florality derived from the use of white flowers.

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