Australianas Mediterraneas, 1996

Australianas Mediterraneas was the name of a Sensory Concert held on three different occasions in Adelaide and Sydney, Australia, in April 1996. Alicia Rios acted as Director of the Symphony, in which between 75 and 200 people participated as performers, employing their sensory organs while Mediterranean essences and other stimuli released their inspiration and collective creativity. The concert was the result of this interaction between performers, instruments and stimuli; a collective composition.

Upon entry participants were given a neck pillow to wear made of coloured muslin and filled with herbs or other aromatic substances such as seaweed so that not only did the aromas accompany them as they moved around but they also helped perfume the installation with smells of the Mediterranean.

Five different spaces where created, each dedicated to one of the senses, with various stimuli arranged in such a way that the performers would react to them spontaneously, choosing between them ad lib. Many of the stimuli- flowers, fruit, spices, essential oils- were familiar and invested with emotional, symbolic, religious and other connotations, while others were unexpected yet equally powerful in their ability to evoke individual responses.

The objective was to uninhibit the imagination and unlock the deepest affections and emotions associated with the chemical senses. It was a collective activation of creative freedom with an unscripted, spontaneous ending.

The food table consisted of an edible mosaic recreation of a 4th century B.C. low relief sculpture of Athena in thought. It was accompanied by images of olive oil culture, iconography and production. The food used to create the mosaic was ancient Greek with prominent use of olive oil.

1st version:

Museum of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia, April 3rd 1996 Music: Jacobo Duran Loriga

2nd version:

9th Symposium of Australian Gastronomy: Food and Power: The World, The State, The Household, The Body, The Soul, The Future.
St. John's College University of Sydney, 10th-14th April 1996

3rd version:

A Progressive Dinner: a conference and performance event exploring food and culture.
The Performance Space, Sydney, Australia. 18th - 28th April 1996


'The International Olive Oil Council is sponsoring a visit by extraordinary artist Alicia Rios. In a show created specially created for Australia, Ms Rios will present a multisensorial experience using flowers, fruit, spices and olive oil in their emotional symbolic and religious contexts'

-Guy Griffin, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16.4.96

'A banquet of icons, humble trinkets and wacky treasures, all drawn from Alicia Rios' home culture. This Madrid-based artist's installation, titled Mediterranean Symphony of the Senses, served as a most successful launch for the Performance Space's current conference on the roles of food in our culture...'

-James Waites, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23.4.96

'While a traditional artist's palette consists of pigment and pencils, Spanish performance artist Alicia Rios works with essential oils, herbs and aromatic substances. Rios describes herself as a sensualist who explores the areas of psychological moods, fantasies, desires and emotions through the medium of smells and tastes... There are more than 125 different sizes and shapes of containers containing smells which are supposed to suggest things you can explore a man's boudoir, a lady's boudoir, the kitchen, the dinning room, the garden, the mountains, and the beach..'

-Stewart Hawkins, The Daily Telegraph, 19.4.96