Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssens is known for her dazzling and playful light installations which are geared towards disorientating audiences and challenging their perception of space and time.
With an internationally renowned body of work, Janssens has been producing her conceptual creations for more than three decades and is in Sydney for this year’s Biennale. Her artwork is currently on display at Carriageworks and the industrial space is the perfect place for her large light installations.
“Some of my work exists in natural light and some of my work exists in artificial light,” says Janssens. “My immersive works are a kind of performance for the visitor.”
This theatrical quality is pretty obvious when you see Janssens installations – one work could almost be part of a magic show. It consists of a series of six clear tanks which refract light and colour to create the illusion of space where there is none. The mini “aquariums” are positioned next to a sheet of foil which falls from the ceiling and reflects playfully back onto them.
“[The tanks] are filled with crystal clear water and oil and that makes a kind of illusion because it look like there is colour floating on the surface but it is just the effect of the light refraction,” says Janssens. “All this kind of work concerns the dematerialisation of nature.”
Janssens’ art is deliberately transient and she prefers to work with materials which meld with the surrounding space, like light and water.
“Much of my work I have made in situ. There are not many objects. It is a proposition or it disappears after the moment of the show,” says Janssens.
Janssens’ work actually has a bit of a postmodern edge because it challenges the very nature of the materials artworks should be made of.
“It’s about how to speak about painting and sculpture with my own tools and I use the quality of the light to make works about painting and sculpture,” says Janssens.
Janssens’ other installation at Carriageworks also has an ephemeral quality. It consists of a coloured beam of light which changes daily and slices through a thick haze in a dark room. Walking through this light installation is more like being in a blurry dream than seeing a light sculpture.
While Janssens’ work is incredibly distinct, a lot of trial and error goes into her production process and she comes up with the final creation on location.
Those who enjoy Janssens’ immersive light installations can revisit her work in September. She’ll be creating the light design for dance performance Cesena, which will be performed at Carriageworks on the 14 and 15 September.
Ann Veronica Janssens’ work is on display at Carriageworks for the 18th Biennale of Sydney from June 27 to 16 September. The exhibition is free. For more information, visit the website.
Photos: © Susannah Wimberley