In a gallery that’s already blindingly bright, Ann Veronica Janssens’s latest installations bring a refreshing glow to the former 1970s warehouse. White Cube’s ivory spaces are filled with projections, gold sculpture and even a glitter spillage… welcome to the UK’s most Instagram-friendly artist.
For her first solo exhibition in the UK, Brussels-based Janssens examines optical phenomena. Using light, sculpture and placement, she explores spatio-temporal experience to challenge how the audience sees themselves within different environments and contexts. She’s perhaps most famous for her disorientating yet mesmerising mist installations; last year’s Yellowbluepink dominated the Wellcome Collection, in what was almost an interactive trust exercise. An entire wing of the gallery was shrouded in a pastel mist, reducing the viewer’s visibility to just a few paces in front of them – a poignant reminder of how we take our senses for granted. Its sunset hues, while an ideal opportunity for art enthusiasts to update their Instagram feeds, enveloped the viewer in a state of confusion about their own bodily perception.
Many of Janssens’s pieces are not all they first seem. Magic Mirrors (Blue and Pink #2) appear at first glance to be almost foil-like, but upon closer inspection they are made up of three layers of glass; the middle completely shattered. To the right of the mirrors stands Reggae colour, the latest in her ‘Dichroic Projection’ series – a halogen lamp filtered with similar warm and comforting shades to Yellowbluepink; each lamp in the series is fitted with a different filter so viewers experience each of her exhibitions in a unique colour scheme.
Magic Mirrors (Blue and Pink #2).
Although there are only nine works in the room, Janssens’s pieces utilise every inch of space. A seemingly accidental spillage covers a whole half of the room; it is in fact a pile of white glitter – almost as if you’d walked in and spilt the contents of your makeup bag on the floor. Janssens’s use of colour is triumphant in every single one of her pieces. Although the glitter spillage may be categorically white, from every angle we see shades reflected from her other works, and even one’s own reflection.
For fans of Richard Wilson (creator of 20:50, the famous oil room at the Saatchi Gallery), Janssens’s aquarium series continues with Sweet Blue, a glass cube filled with paraffin oil and a thin layer of blue liquid on top. Here, she makes use of physics to create the most confusing fish tank to ever exist. Enhanced by the natural phenomenon of refraction, the blue colour appears to be floating on top of the oil, blurring the lines between a solid and liquid state. With each angle comes a different perception of the piece. From the top, it could be a plastic cube. A view from the side exposes the work to be one of the most minimalist yet vulnerable parts of her exhibition – whilst the viewer can see straight through it, their own image is reflected in the glass with a pinkish tint from the halogen lamp on the other side of the room; a strange spectacle reminiscent of emulsion science experiments.
Janssens once said that nothing is more beautiful than a person’s own perception, and her White Cube installation encourages us to see ourselves in a whole new light – literally.
Words and images, Holly Patrick