De Pont Museum
10 November - 31 March, 2018
Light, color and space are the fundamental materials used by Ann Veronica Janssens (Folkestone, 1956). With these intangible phenomena she creates 'sculptures' that make the invisible visible. Architecture is, by nature, static; whereas light and color remain changeable. That is what Janssens investigates while, throughout the process, she experiments and sets people and things in motion. Her work, based on sensory perception, demands the active involvement of the viewer.
With her interventions Ann Veronica Janssens turns the museum's 'white cube' into an indefinable space filled with colorful mist. Despite the presence of light, we need to grope to find our way. The disorientation makes us wonder: just how big is this place? And – am I alone? Gradually the limits of the space become discernible, and people begin to loom forth in it. The artist challenges us and puts our senses to the test. What are we actually seeing and experiencing here?
In an interview from 2016, Janssens tells about growing up in Kinshasa, spending her days there tinkering and observing a great deal. Her father was an architect, and her mother worked in an art gallery. In the local museum she became acquainted with African art. Architecture, art and the idea of experimenting and observing were part of her early surroundings. Simple discoveries, such as reflections of light that appear on a smoothly polished train rail or while mixing a vinaigrette, frequently prompt a new series of works. The initial attempts begin on a small scale, in her studio, but then she seeks the support of technical specialists in order to achieve the effect that she has in mind. But as Janssens emphasizes in her interview, chance also plays a role in the realization of her work.
We can, in any case, conclude that Ann Veronica Janssens evokes wonder with works that are unusual and ordinary. It’s a bit like the experience of an airplane traveler taking off on a dreary grey day and then passing through a dense layer of clouds. In the luminous white surroundings where patches of fog rush by, points of orientation such as above/below and far/close disappear. Once the plane has risen above the clouds, sunshine abounds. There the bright blue sky offers endless vistas, while an occasional cloud floats by. A Janssens exhibition feels like a rite of passage: ordinary phenomena suddenly assume magical power.
Watch a short video about her work in the Danish Louisiana Museum here.