9/20/19 - 12/15/19

Katie Paterson

A white candle that burns down over 12 hours creates a journey through space via its scent. The layers of the candle, created by artist Katie Paterson, each contain a unique fragrance corresponding to a planet or place in the universe. Over the course of a series of two-hour activations in WCMA’s Reading Room, visitors will journey across the cosmos, traversing the invisible landscapes of the moon, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and into a vacuum. Candle is accompanied by an artist book, a place that exists only in moonlight—printed with cosmic dust—that contains a series of artworks existing in the imagination. The book comprises more than 100 short texts, each of which concerns the landscape, the universe, or an expanded sense of time.


Katie Paterson’s Candle unfolds over time during multiple activations over the course of its installation: Sept. 26; Oct. 10 and 24; and Nov. 7 and 21. At each, the candle will burn for two hours, releasing different layers of scent while poets, dancers, and musicians share original interventions inspired by the work.

The candle will burn from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.


Interventions begin in the Reading Room at 6 p.m.

September 26: A live reading of Katie Paterson’s artist’s book A place that exists only in moonlight.

October 10: A sound installation by Neil Leonard created in response to Katie Paterson’s scent interpretations of ozone, meteorites, and the moon.

October 24

November 7: Dancers from CoDA, led by faculty Erica Dankmeyer and Janine Parker, perform original compositions inspired by the movement of the planets.

November 21: The Williams College Chamber Choir present original, improvisational compositions inspired by Katie Paterson’s A place that exists only in moonlight

Watch a short video compilation of Candle activations: