Feria de los Cinco Sentidos (Fair of the Five Senses), 1997 and 2002

'La Feria' was an installation staged twice, in London and Madrid, in which to explore the five senses. The audience became performers, their sensory organs the instruments that had to be tuned in order to produce a symphony of sensations.

A world of experience was presented where you could touch, walk on, eat and truly interact with a series of objects, props, foods and scents that instead of being taken past you could actually take with you! The only guide was one's will to experience and one's curiosity, leading to a lack of inhibition. Improvisation took place, opening windows and doors of perception and sensation closed in everyday life. A transition between individual experience and a communal concert of sensations was possible thanks to a stream of evocations and symbols, tastes, smells, textures... from past times and far off places, which made the participants' unconscious release the pleasure of recalling sentiments and emotions long ago forgotten. In the version for Teatralia she also presented 'The Authentic Food from Fairytales' including Snow White's apple and Popeye's tinned spinach.

In both London and Madrid school visits were organised including groups of disabled children. For Alicia it was very rewarding to see how these children in particular responded to some of the stimulus on offer, unable to appreciate some aspects they often found others particularly intense.

1st version

LIFT 97 (London International Festival of Theatre), at the BAC (Battersea Arts Centre)

2nd version

Teatralia, International Festival of Theatre for Children, Madrid and Alcalá de Henares, 2002.


Breakdown of the installation areas


'Meet Alicia Rios. She's the Spanish gastronomy expert who's turned to theatre to convince us of the creative power of food. As an authority on the subject, she's laughing and educating at the same time. "I like to approach things from an ironic and poetic point of view," she says, balancing a hat she has just fashioned from mange tout, sweet corn and cress on her head with surprising dignity. Alicia is the most sophisticated fruit-and-nut case I've ever met, and if she doesn't cause a bit of a stir with her first public performances in London, I'll eat her hat.'

-Caroline Stacey, Time Out, 4.6.97

'La Feria combines the sociability of a Mediterranean marketplace with the abandon of toddlers' playground. Adults become ludicrously childlike, dipping their toes in sand and jumping on bubble-wrap. Children become like mini-adults, touching and tasting as if they were wine buffs or food experts.'

-Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, 7.6.97

'Alicia Ríos is an extraordinary cocktail: sculptor, set designer, gastronomic philosopher, gourmet and diplomatic ambassador for the crafts and food of Spain. She positively encourages visitors to explore everything with every one of their five senses. In this show, the "Do not" in "Do not touch" is replaced by an emphatic "Do!"'

-Sophie Grigson, The Evening Standard, 5.6.97

'Ms. Ríos has made abstract ideas tangible, audible, smellable and tasteable philosophy made so concrete that she no longer needs to speak, act or even be present to communicate her arguments. Her performance has become so abstract that the installation worked all by itself.'

-Paul Levy, The Wall Street Journal, Europe, 20.6.97