Online project and distributed publication


Jennifer Mehigan

Ends 20 February 2021

This project by Jennifer Mehigan was adapted as the Covid restrictions changed during the research and preparation time. Instead of a physical installation which visitors would have been able to encounter, the artist reshaped the concept to the 'traditional' media form of a printed publication with inserted samples of 'perfume and other fragrance products'; a refreshing format after the online overload, easy to be picked up or posted and read and enjoyed at home, touching paper, turning pages.

'The ‘default’ aesthetic - a term coined by Etienne Cliquet in the early 00s – describes the appearance of information on a computer without an added layer of ‘design’. In the language of computing, “by default” refers to the parameters that are defined in the moment between a program being launched and before a user is able to modify it or make changes. “At start-up, the display is initialized by default.” The world wide web, mainstream social media platforms, Adobe CS, Mac OS X, Windows, etc, are wrapped in membranes of design that provide a narrow set of outcomes that are ultimately predicted before you turn your devices on.

Grappling with these parameters and their relationship to 'neutrality', HARDCORE VANILLA RAIN presents a series of paintings, photographs, drawings, writing fragments, and screenshots in publication form, accompanied by vials of perfume and other fragrance products. After Cliquet, the flavour-and-fragrance component of vanilla and/or vanillin as the material embodiment of 'default-ness' provides an entry point for thinking about obedience, alienation, consumption, and experiences of pleasure in Mehigan’s digital work.

publication page

publication page

HARDCORE VANILLA RAIN began as an investigation into default structures and systems, supremacist images and rituals, and the manner in which we are complicit in reproducing and enabling these cultural templates and patterns. Through the history of the vanilla plant and the pervasiveness of gendered artificial vanilla flavourings and fragrances, I mapped sensual experiences of colonisation, disobedience, and theology throughout history and in my own life. Visualising divinity can also feel like summoning demons, and this book compiles some of the textures and forms of certain myths and symbols while also presenting a material study of violence, everyday poetry, growing flowers, and my horse avatar.

Arriving as long black pods, vanilla was introduced to Europe from Mexico in the 1500s. The flat-leaved vanilla orchid (vanilla planifolia) will not bear fruit when grown outside of Mexico, requiring artificial pollination by hand. This refusal is unintentionally sweet.

268 pages, 21x28cm, uncoated paper, contains liquid.
Limited edition of 70 copies.
To reserve a publication, please email hello[at]

The book will be available for free, but you will need to pay postage if you don’t live in Northern Ireland, please. If you would like to make a donation instead of purchasing the book, please send whatever you would pay for a book or whatever you can afford to Nexus NI, to support the 24 hour domestic and sexual violence hotline and their other free counselling services. LINK

Text by Jennifer Mehigan

publication image

Hardcore Vanilla Rain

About the artist

Jennifer Mehigan, (1988, Singapore / Cork), is an artist based in Belfast.
Initially trained in graphic design and art education, her work spans multiple platforms, mixing together 3d modelling, found / stock objects and images, text, textiles, video, painting, sound, scent, and installation. Recently her practice has expanded to include workshops and public / graphic collaborations with friends.
She is currently a PhD researcher at the Belfast School of Art, Ulster University.