artist / participant
Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssens creates works based on light interacting with liquids, fog, reflecting surfaces and the surrounding space. In these experimental spaces she heightens and tests our sensory experiences. In her exhibition, opening in October 12, Ann Veronica Janssens fills Kiasma with light for the darkest time of the year.
People have always been fascinated by visible phenomena such as light and shadow, solar and lunar eclipses, the northern lights, bolts of lightning, celestial bodies, and the infinity of the cosmos. Janssens embraces a mindset of wonder and open-minded curiosity. She uses art as an experimental vehicle to invoke cosmic dimensions and impressions of stardust. She makes invisible things visible and challenges our perceptions with her sense-defying art.
Janssens uses very few materials in her art. For her, art consists not of an object but an experience evoked by light and colour. “If my work has any meaning, it’s about relinquishing control, the absence of authoritative materiality, and a tentative attempt to escape the tyranny of objects,” Ann Veronica Janssens says about her work.
This tentative attempt to escape the tyranny of objects is inherently paradoxical, however. To present her ideas in a visual form, Janssens resorts to using basic elements such as colour, light and natural phenomena. She seeks to convey non-material phenomena as directly as possible, without an added artefactual or representative level. Even so, her art has a very tangible presence, inviting us to interact and engage in an immediate sensory experience.
On Kiasma’s fifth floor, Janssens has created a landscape of multi-coloured lights, spread across the wall. The visual effect is similar to atmospheric phenomena like rainbows or the aurora borealis. Janssens describes this work as a field of coloured light and immaterial way to experiment with colour and composition. “It’s about perception and experience,” she states.
Space for audience Janssens’ distinctive use of space as a venue for a shared sensory experience is an overarching feature of her work. Her art acquires meaning only when there are people on the space.
An example of this philosophy is the work Bikes. It consists of chromed bicycles that visitors can ride in Kiasma’s large gallery. Janssens wants to offer the cyclists and other viewers a completely new experience of the space, drawing attention to how we slice through the light and air around us.
Upon viewing her art, we visit border zones between interiority and exteriority, the finite and infinite, the visible and invisible. Janssens compels us to question our sensory world, the reliability of our perceptions and, ultimately, the very basis of our sensations and consciousness.
Ann Veronica Janssens was born in Folkestone, UK, in 1956. She lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. Her work has featured in many international exhibitions and art events since the 1980s. Spread across two floors of Kiasma, this exhibition marks her solo debut in Finland.
A book about Ann Veronica Janssens published for this exhibition will be available at Kiasma Shop in October.