As spring reached its peak along with the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, I noticed the scent of blooming flowers missing during my daily walks along the Hudson River. This anosmia, caused by intentional mask-wearing, mirrored that of the anosmia caused by COVID-19 itself. I began to photograph the flowers I couldn’t smell—all within a few blocks of the Javits Center makeshift hospital—imagining their perfumes commingling and manually pixellating their visage through the mask. This digital manipulation represents a purposeful anosmia as a preventive measure against the disease-induced phenomenon.
Over a year later, when I ultimately got COVID-19, I lost my sense of smell. Coffee tasted like warm nothingness, and my birthday cake was a melange of textures and temperatures rather than flavors. I created similar images for these moments too. Though I had since moved from the Javits Center area, I remember taking a bike ride around there where I noticed the first return of olfaction. The first smell that came back was that of jet fuel from the nearby helipad; I had never been happier catch a whiff.