Re:Sense by Iris Athanasiadi – review

Words by Katie Hagan

Having some time for seclusion where we can be at one with our bodily senses is hard to come by in a world where we’ve become so desensitised. I trawl through social media aimlessly losing hours of my days, scrolling so much I fear my fingerprints will wear away.

Re:Sense, a multisensory, online experience for every-body created by choreographer, Iris Athanasiadi gave us time to reawaken and stir our senses. A culmination of her MFA research at Trinity Laban, the online experience that Athanasiadi meticulously crafted let us the participants surround ourselves in a warm blanket of darkness, encouraging us to draw on our palette of senses to experiment with various ways of being in an habitual space.

Re:Sense is a two phase process divided into a preparatory and performative stage. After I had prepared my space — including the creation of a burrow-like shelter — as highlighted in a handbook on the Re:Sense webpage, I took two scents from my home. One was to be anointed on the skin, the other placed in the enclosed space I had created; quotidian fragrances taking on new aromas in a familiar context.

This ambrosial atmosphere was taken to the next level during the remainder of the preparatory phase. In this meditative state lasting around 15 minutes we are in our ‘designed’ spaces blindfolded, listening to a recording which asks us whether we are present, if we can touch or smell what we hear. Blurring the boundaries between one sense and the other, this introspective phase attuned us to our bodies and focused our minds on the space in which we were exploring.

The performative period followed. Not needing a blindfold this time, stirring sound textures curl about my ears. I am invited to be and then move; until my focus progresses further than what I can taste and touch, to the sensation of time being before my body and not passing or running away. Through being present, truly in this space, I can give my body what it needs — the time is a perfect tonic. I have time to dissociate myself from memories and anxieties that gnaw at my mind; time to reimagine a space that has become stale with sleep, food, me. Time to see and touch parts of my surroundings that feel more than what they are, to indulge and be in a space and do what feels good.

We’re living in an aeon where the sheer mass of technology has desensitised us in many ways. It is a numbing sensation made all the more cumbersome by our current physical and social isolation as a result of the pandemic. Re:Sense by Iris Athanasiadi gave us precious time and agency to open, explore and renew our body of senses, making the world seem a little more inviting, lighter and brighter in the process.

About: Iris Athanasiadi is an architect, choreographer and interdisciplinary performer based in London. Since 2015 she has been exploring the common threads between Architecture and Choreography and as a choreographer, she has developed a unique approach to mindfulness through movement. Her aim is to support people in rediscovering their body/ mind relationship and reconnecting with their environment in an active and meaningful way.